Emma Refvem is a science teacher at Riverside High School in Durham, NC. She has participated in several of my energy workshops so I was thrilled to read about a wind energy-related project she proposed on DonorsChoose.org on my Facebook page. Her $671 project was fully funded within 5 days!
Emma’s project is titled Wind, Environmental Justice, and Literacy in ESL Science and is targeted to her ESL Sheltered Earth Science class. According to Emma, her students “come from many different countries, and are eager to learn! However, the language barrier can get discouraging. Hands-on activities in which they can use creativity to bridge the gap have so far proven to be the most effective for these active children.”
Emma proposed that her students read “The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind“, a book about a young man from Malawi who learned about and then constructed a windmill made of scrap materials for his village. Her students will then construct wind turbines from everyday materials such as cereal boxes, index cards, and paper clips. And then they will share their wind turbine designs via Skype with with students from Durham’s sister city of Arusha in Tanzania.
I asked Emma to reflect on her DonorsChoose.org experience: “Using DonorsChoose is a great way to invite parents and community members who want to be a part of your classroom to participate in developing the learning atmosphere. Parents of former students, as well as friends from my own hometown were more than happy to help fund the project. I hadn’t even reached out to our own PTA because it got funded so quickly, but they would have been another invaluable resource. It is a great way to get some cool resources to try out labs without having to apply for a more official grant. The only thing you have to prove is that the students used the resources, by making thank-you cards and taking pictures! It couldn’t be easier!”
I am sharing Emma’s story here in hopes of inspiring other teachers to propose hands-on projects at DonorsChoose.org!