By Susan Parks-Schlepp
Special to The Sun
Cheyenne Middle School in Edmond has learned it is receiving a $5,000 grant from the National Education Association to help fund the completion of an outdoor Exploratorium.
The grant money will go toward building a greenhouse, the largest project of the outdoor classroom, which also will include raised gardens, alluvial stream beds, compost bins, wind turbines and solar panels.
“We were so excited when we got word … we screamed,” said Cheyenne science teacher Jeannine Macrory. “This Exploratorium is going to be a place where authentic student learning can take place … an outdoor classroom where we can really get into students’ brains the concepts that we are teaching inside the classroom.”
Macrory, along with Cheyenne science teacher Sharron Wolf, wrote the NEA grant, a process they call “very intense.” It is the largest of the half dozen grants that the pair has written to help secure funding for the unique project, which is expected to cost $30,000.
“The greenhouse is really exciting,” Wolf said. “It will be used to allow students to do more long-term experiments in the areas of genetic engineering, alternative fuels and hydroponics.”
The teachers say that parent and community support also has been vital in securing the funds and equipment for the outdoor classroom. So far, the school has received donations from Lowe’s, McGuire’s Plumbing, Edmond Rock and countless other groups and individuals.
“The parental support has been phenomenal too; whatever we have asked for they have provided,” McGuire said. “We’ve had some parents write some very large checks.”
Construction on the Exploratorium already has begun. Rocks and a liner for the alluvial stream bed are in place. Construction on the greenhouse is expected to begin soon.