Venture Grant Program
The goal of the Venture Grant Program is to enhance and to expand educational experiences and opportunities for the students of the Wilson School District by providing grants to individual teachers, groups of teachers, departments, and other professional employees that support creative and innovative programs that would not normally be funded through the school budget. Grants will be awarded semi-annually to enable unique programs, teaching strategies, and learning experiences to become a reality in the classroom or through support services where they can influence the learning climate and directly benefit students.
The following projects received funding through the Fall 2013 Venture Grant Application Process:
For several years Berks Art Council and Land Displays have promoted the work of professional artists through “Fast Lane Art.” For the first year, a juried student category was added. Elizabeth “Bibba” McKemy, high school art teacher, would like to invite any visual art students in grade 9-12 to join the competition! This contest helps to promote the arts in Berks County and allows interested Wilson Students to participate in a contest that promotes creativity and problem solving. This also provides a great community experience, as the exhibition is at the Crowne Plaza and is sponsored by the Berks Art Council. Winning entries will have their artwork displayed on billboards throughout the county and the first and second place winners will earn scholarships. Twelve Wilson students entered the competition and Wilson’s Emily McGuigan won the “People’s Choice Student Category” for most Facebook “Likes” of her artwork Majesties, which will be displayed on electronic billboards.
Through “Flipping the Classroom,” Jocelyn Moyer and Karin Mohr will engage their high school Family and Consumer Science students in a new way of learning. Teachers will post video demonstrations on their website allowing students to watch the demonstrations prior to class, allotting more class time for students to practice the new skills with the support of the teacher. This will help to increase student engagement during the class time and allows students to give feedback and questions beforehand so teachers can tailor the lesson for each class. Students can view the clip multiple times until they feel comfortable with the material and students who are absent get the chance to catch up to the class more quickly. The goal is to eventually have students create their own videos on research topics of their choosing and use the videos to teach their peers!
Ann Yarwornitsky, Wilson Southern Middle School librarian, encourages students to read through “Nooks for Today's Readers.” These Nooks will be used to help students and faculty lead discussion groups that will help to broaden their love of reading. Having these Nooks in the library introduces new technology to students and encourages students to participate in the Reading Olympics, helping students to become life-long readers. These Nooks will be available to the 65 Reading Olympic students along with the rest of the schools population. The library generously received Nooks the previous year through the Venture Grant, resulting in a 3rd-place finish last year in the Berks County Reading Olympics! They found this is a way to generate interest for students to read who usually don’t read for fun and believe adding more Nooks will help to get students interested!
The Southern Middle School Pre-STEM Academy RC Model Club integrates science and technology in the area of aviation. Mark Wiebner and Cory Luft are using an iPad for the clubs use to fully fly their AR drone, a radio controlled flying quadcopter helicopter. The iPad will be used to create and maintain the pre-STEM Academy RC club specifically for “first person view RC technology.” This club helps to bring together different academic departments and gets students excited about aviation. Students are able to explore the concept of flight from a first person viewpoint and record the experience. Although this club focuses on grades 7 and 8, it also helps to catapult students into the STEM Academy in 9th grade. Having the use of an iPad allows interested students to be able to see more directly how science and technology are integrated in aviation.
The Tulpehocken Ecology Field Study program, submitted by Ed Ulmer, high school biology teacher, provides opportunities for Wilson High School students to participate in true science outside the classroom. This program is designed to help students in the CP Biology and Honors Biology classes as well as students involved in the Environmental Science Club at the high school participate in various field studies. Studies take place on Saturdays throughout the year and on occasional afternoons during the week. Students partake in opportunities such as, studying water quality by chemical testing’s and taking nature walks to observe the Tulpehocken Ecosystem. Students discuss environmental issues as well as develop educational materials for elementary students, and collaborate in environmental groups locally to plant trees. This is a way for students who are truly interested in the topics to use this experience as part of a science fair project, community service, and/or career explorations. This opportunity is primarily focused for 11th grade students but is open to grades 9-12 for the club aspect.