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Carter Spark Grants launch a lively interest in STEAM
By Lisa DiMartino / March 20, 2019 /   Loading Disqus...

A lively group of Fishing Cove Elementary School students gathered outside school Friday morning and launched rockets they built as part of an innovative program designed to make learning about gravity, trajectory and aerodynamics fun. The youngsters used small, single-use propulsion engines ignited by an electrical current to send their rockets as high as 350 feet into the cloudy sky.

“The opportunity to build and launch a model rocket is an exciting way to spark an invested interest in science. Incorporating model rocketry into our student's academic career will develop their problem-solving skills and ultimately motivate students in future STEAM activities,” said third-grade teacher Robert Lucas.

Working in groups of three in their classroom, students assembled the foot-long rockets before filing into a field beside their North Kingstown school. They waited expectantly as Lucas helped each one launch their rocket one at a time.

“STEAM careers have steadily increased; however during the past two decades, college students graduating with these subjects have steadily decreased. As educators, we need to keep kids not only interested in STEAM, but also help them become excited enough to envision it as a career path,” he said.

The other Fishing Cove teachers to receive Spark Grants are Jessica Rodrigues, Lisa Ferrie, Lisa Armstrong, Michele Haskell, Marea Rice and Lane Leedahl. The North Kingstown school received nearly $7,000 in grants in all.

Fishing Cove is one of more than two dozen schools statewide that received funding from the Carter Spark Grants program at the Rhode Island Foundation. Funded by philanthropists Letitia and the late John Carter, the program offered third- and fourth-grade teachers grants of up to $1,000 for activities that engage students through unique experiences and creative learning methods. The Foundation awarded nearly $135,000 in grants statewide.

“Once again, the Carter family is promoting change through leadership. Thanks to their foresight, teachers all over Rhode Island have an exceptional opportunity to be innovative,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation.

Schools in Barrington, Bristol, Burrillville, Charlestown, Cranston, Cumberland, East Providence, Foster, Lincoln, North Providence, Pawtucket, Portsmouth, Providence, Scituate, Smithfield, Warren, Warwick, and Woonsocket also received Spark Grants.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $114 million and awarded $52 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2018. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.

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