Architecture Incorporated established a new annual grant program in 2021 to award multiple worthy K-12 educators with a combined total of $4,500 in funding to help their students thrive and succeed. We were seeking out-of-the-box ideas of all sizes to address teachers' challenges and encourage ingenuity in education.
We were very excited to receive 50 applications from across the region, many of which were very deserving so it was difficult to select the winners! To be eligible, the applicant must be a teacher in the state of South Dakota or within 100 miles of Sioux Falls or Rapid City. Grant applications can be for any amount up to $4,500. Grant materials can be used in a classroom, across a grade level, throughout a building, or district-wide, but cannot be for food.
Prior to judging, our committee removed the applicant's name and school district from the application to remove any bias. Grants were judged on the following criteria:
- Clearly and concisely written
- Enhances curriculum or teaching standards
- The need/rationale is explained
- There are clearly defined outcomes/benefits
- The requested grant funds are specified and supported
- It will have a positive impact on the community
- Are there other funding avenues available?
The winners highlighted below scored highly in all of the criteria listed above.
high school river analysis
Hot Springs School District
“Throughout the 2021 Fall Semester, local high school students investigated the human impact on a local river. Three locations were selected for students to focus their research. Area 1 was chosen due to its low human interaction. Areas 2 and 3 had evidence of human interaction through pesticides/herbicides, road runoff, human chemicals, mechanical work, and garbage. Students collected data on the presence of vegetation, biodiversity, temperature, pH, and nitrates in the river. The project culminated with a presentation of the student's data analysis to our local school board. Our goal this year is first to collect a new round of data to reflect the ongoing impacts of society on our three areas. Then, students will expand on the data collected to design a maintenance plan for the river that minimizes the ecological impact. Historically, different community members have disagreed on the best way to sustain the river area. Community concerns include water quality, flood prevention, invasive species, tourism impacts, and cost. Students will be challenged to devise a data-driven plan that benefits all stakeholders.
A significant outcome of this project is to expose students to engineering practices in a relevant & meaningful way. Career exploration is necessary at the high school level. By partnering with SD Mines, our students will see current best practices in ecology and environmental engineering from experts in the field. Additionally, this project opens the door for rich classroom-level discussions on biodiversity, water management & our global water crisis, and the intersection of science and society.
Finally, since this topic impacts many in the community, the culminating research should be presented to our local city council, school board, and interested community members. This allows students to practice soft skills necessary for any workforce, such as communicating scientific research to others. Presenting to an authentic audience helps the students make a genuine connection between their curriculum and their lives.”
sustain - nurture - harvest - share
Sioux Falls School District (Jefferson High School)
“Sustain. Nurture. Harvest. Share.” is a project that will allow approximately 400 students in high school foods class to grow, harvest, utilize, and share fruits and vegetables grown in classroom hydroponic gardens. Classroom students will gain hands-on experience as they plan, plant, tend and harvest our classroom garden. Foods harvested will then be used in classroom recipes. Surplus foods will then be shared with families in our community who are in need of food assistance. We will work with community partners including our environmental sciences class, school counselors, hydroponic gardening experts, and local greenhouse owners.
“Sustain. Nurture. Harvest. Share.” is a long-term (sustainable) program that will incorporate standards from a variety of subjects in our State CTE (Career and Technical Education) Standards, including Plant Science, Natural Resources, Nutrition and Wellness, Service Learning, and Leadership."