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$87K grant brings new tech to FCS

In a world of technology and virtual learning, hands-on learning will always reign supreme in some disciplines, especially in a science classroom.

To help update the science labs in Franklin County, Franklin County Schools received an Appalachian Regional Commission Grant of $87,500 to go toward science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics in all five Franklin County high schools.

“You can do a lot of activities with kids virtually, but this will really allow them the chance to do things a lot more hands-on,” said Franklin County Schools grant writer Susan Hargett.

The money from the grant will help replace old existing equipment in school science labs, such as Chromebooks, microscopes, printers and science kits.

“Having all of this easily at my disposal will enable my class to be even more hands on than it already is,” said Phil Campbell High School science teacher Devon Hester. “I believe hands-on is a necessity to learning, especially in science. It engages the students in a way that keeps their attention and requires active learning and participation.”

Hester said the majority of science equipment her class uses comes through Alabama Science in Motion, a program that provides science equipment and kits to all public high schools, but she is looking forward to having some equipment on-site.

“Science in Motion does a great job, but it did require extensive planning and keeping to a schedule of availability that is often difficult in a high school setting,” Hester said. “I will still be using Science in Motion, but having some lab equipment on site will enable me to do more labs.”

Hester said previously her classroom did not have a Chromebook for every student, so students had to share Chromebooks, or Hester demonstrated the simulation using the projector.

Hester said she thinks these science simulations will be much more useful to students now that they can all perform the exercises.

Hargett said once notified of the grant, teachers were able to review what they had in their classrooms and make a list of what equipment would be most beneficial.

The majority of schools received their equipment by the end of the 2020-21 school year, but most did not have a chance to use the equipment with a class.

“We think it is really going to help our students to be more career and college ready,” Hargett said. “We want to make sure our students have access to everything they need.”