Salem-Keizer Education Foundation provides innovation grants for classroom teachers in support of the creative projects and programs that explore the different learning styles of all students.
In 2015, a grant was awarded to Maureen Foelkl, whose teaching has extended over 30 years with the Salem-Keizer School District. The grant, Weather Watchers, was one of the most memorable projects for Maureen due to the support of SKEF staff and the grant providing all of the materials for her students.
“Our district was transitioning into the Next Generation Science Standards with a heavy focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM),” Maureen explained. “In order to bring authentic learning, I needed equipment and supplies for our third grade students and their families.”
Weather Watchers made it possible for students to take home portable rain gauge stations to collect comparable data with their families. The students then researched science, mathematics and the engineering design process to construct prototypes for a learning center that would reduce the impact of flood waters along Glen Creek. The results were successfully presented to the Glen/Gibson Creek Watershed Council, the Oregon Green School Summit, STEMpalooza, the school community and fellow students
“I was able to address STEM while allowing students to discover that these occupations employ both female and male workers with various social and ethnic backgrounds,” stated Maureen. “Inviting outreach speakers to present information assisted our students in discovering that they too can excel in these careers.”
When asked about the impact, Maureen explained how she now has a number of students who are now interested in studying some form of engineering due to the experience of using hands-on materials.
Over the three-decades in the Salem-Keizer School district, and her many grants, Maureen has actively involved her students in community watershed projects, partnering with city, state and national agencies. She enthusiastically incorporates Citizen Science research projects to support activity-based learning. Most recently she was awarded as one of ten top innovative educators by the Henry Ford Museum.
From everyone here at SKEF, we thank you, Maureen, for your dedication to our students! Because of you, every child, every day has the opportunity to succeed.