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Grants for Great Ideas Brings Added Dimensions to Instruction (November, 2005)

Most people know that the Frisco Education Foundation provides scholarships to graduating seniors but another aspect of FEF is the Grants for Great Ideas program that allows teachers to apply for grants for programs that will enhance the district’s curriculum.

Derek McDowell’s idea has brought a new class to Centennial High School’s science department. Because of the matching funds FEF provided to the National Science Foundation, McDowell was able receive curriculum training in photonic technology (the study of practical applications of light) and to participate in a two-week internship at Photodigm, Inc., in Richardson. As a direct result of this, Centennial now offers students Introduction to Photonics. The science of photonics has brought lasers, fiber optics, bar code scanners, and CD players to the world. Students considering careers in engineering may benefit greatly from this class, which will expose them to some of the world’s latest technology.

Elementary schools may also benefit from the Grants for Great Ideas program. Kimberly Caldwell of Rogers received funding for ArtSmart, a program that provides art history prints that may be used not just in art class but in core subjects such as math, writing and social studies. The prints are of pop art, new masters and classic art. Caldwell says that research has shown that connecting artworks to core subjects strengthens the students understanding. This project is also a great idea because the ArtSmart materials may be used year after year.

Each year hopeful teachers apply for the grant program. Though FEF is not able to give each great idea funding, K. Jonas, FEF director says she hopes that many more great ideas will be implemented each year in Frisco schools thanks to Grants for Great Ideas.