Grant helps fund STEM-related supplies, curriculum

The College of Education's STEM lab helps prepare future teachers to integrate STEM into their classrooms curriculum.

The College of Education's STEM lab helps prepare future teachers to integrate STEM into their classrooms curriculum.

A grant from the Choctawhatchee, Pea and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Authority is helping Troy University’s Department of Teacher Education prepare future teachers to educate future generations about important topics such as water quality and conservation, the impacts of pollution and protection of wildlife habitats.

Grant funds are helping to buy supplies and curriculum for use in the College of Education’s Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STREAM) Lab to prepare current TROY education students for their future classrooms.

The lab was developed in 2021 thanks to a $32,000 grant from the Wiregrass Resource Conservation and Development Council. The lab is used to teach classes in technology, science and STEM and, this summer, will be used in hosting the girls’ STEM camp, “Girl Power.”

“This lab serves three purposes: teaching pre-service educators about STEM, STEM camps for area children; and to provide professional development to in-service educators to motive them to implement STEM more often,” said Dr. Shannon Dadd, project director and assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education.

The most recent grant is vitally important because it helps prepare future teachers while also providing resources and materials for their use as they prepare to graduate and go into the state’s classrooms.

“Providing materials and instruction in these areas will educate our students on water quality, water conservation, pollution, wildlife habitat protection, land conservation and flood/erosion prevention, and our students, in return, will take what they’ve learned and utilize it in their future classrooms,” Dr. Dadd said. “The goal is for our students to spread further awareness about the Choctawhatchee, Pea and Yellow Rivers, making the connection to a real-world resource that students in our area of the state can identify with.”

Dr. Dadd said the lab setting provides pre-service students the experience of what STEM should look like in their own classrooms, as well as the resources to help them practice teaching these lessons.  

“I spend a lot of time in the lab modeling activities and showing them how they can tie that into the regular school day,” she said. “We discuss the importance of providing STEM opportunities to elementary students on a regular basis and the impact that has on their future. This lab provides our pre-service students with resources and materials for them to practice teaching science and STEM without the financial penalty.”

Dr. Dadd said educators often have to spend money out of their own pockets for supplies, while the lab provides students with the opportunity to check out resources. The cost of STEM resources makes receiving this grant Choctawhatchee, Pea and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Authority even more important, she said.

The Choctawhatchee, Pea and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Authority provides management to watersheds covering more than 2.3 million acres, located in whole or in part in the southeastern Alabama counties of Barbour, Bullock, Coffee, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Pike. The agency seeks to develop and implement plans and programs related to water conservation, water use, flood prevention and control, water pollution control, wildlife habitat protection, agricultural and timberland protection and erosion prevention and control. The agency’s four strategic management elements are: water quality, water quantity, flood control and education.