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Oklahoma elementary school gets $55K grant

December 30, 2018

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) — A $55,000 grant from the Jimmie Johnson Foundation can help Pershing Elementary students explore new worlds, big and small, educators say.

Pershing was among seven schools to receive Champions Grants from the Foundation, launched by seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.

The announcement was made Dec. 17.

Pershing’s grant will help fund new items for its STEAM Lab. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math.

Pershing Principal Karen Watkins said the grant “gives us the opportunity to open our kids’ horizons to a world they don’t even know is out there yet.”

Items funded by the grant include 20 additional Google Expedition Goggles, 15 Fisher Science intermediate compound microscopes, a Makerbot Replicator 3D printer, a VEX Robotics classroom bundle and six iMac computers.

STEAM Lab Specialist Lauren Fort said she’s extremely thrilled to get the grant.

“It was a lot of hard work,” Fort told the Muskogee Phoenix . “As a team we all sat down and thought about what would be most beneficial for our building and for our students.”

Fort said the 20 Expedition Goggles will triple the amount of goggles the school has. She said the school bought 10 last year.

“Now, every child in my classroom will have a set,” she said, adding that the goggles enable the students to explore virtual reality while looking through a viewer.

“They can go to outer space,” she said. “They can travel to the moon. They could go to the Eiffel Tower. They can even go inside the human body.”

Sixth-grader Gracie McCoin has used the goggles.

“I personally love it, because it makes me feel like I’m there,” she said.

Student Sean Carter said, “You can go anywhere and once you see it, it’s like you’re there.”

All the other items funded by the grant are new to the school, Fort said.

Fort, who also teaches video production, said the six iMac computers are fast enough for students to do video editing.

McCoin said the computers will improve editing.

“We make videos for the school, and it will make it easier for us to do it all together,” she said.

Fort said the VEX set will enable students to expand robotics skills. She said students currently do Lego robotics. She said she hopes students in upper grades could compete in VEX meets.

“We’ve never had VEX at the elementary level,” Fort said. “I really would like to train sixth grade to be able to start competing.”

Fort said the grant will allow the school to offer state of the art technology.

“We are so thankful for the opportunity to give our students the materials needed to help them be 21st century innovators and thinkers for the world of tomorrow,” Fort said.

The Jimmie Johnson Foundation awards annual grants to schools in North Carolina, where Johnson lives; California, where he was born, and Oklahoma, home state of his wife, Chandra. Chandra Johnson is a native of Muskogee.

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Information from: Muskogee Phoenix, http://www.muskogeephoenix.com

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