$5k TVA grant earned by FIS STEM teacher

Farragut Intermediate School STEM teacher Kristi Shedden has received a $5,000 Tennessee Valley Authority STEM Classroom Grant for 2024, allowing her students to develop engineering projects using a 3D printer.

Shedden and some of her students showed what they learned to TVA and Knox County officials while the teacher accepted the $5,000 check from TVA at the school Thursday, May 9.

“I am so excited to have received this grant,” Shedden said. “It gives my students so many more opportunities to experience STEM firsthand.”

The teacher was notified in November 2023 that she was chosen as one of the TVA/Battelle $5,000 STEM grant recipients.

“Once notified, I invited the students to start coming before school around Thanksgiving to continue learning how to use the website Tinkercad.com for 3D design,” she said.

“The 3D printers arrived April 4, and the students were ready to try out their designs,” Shedden added. “We had a lot of opportunities to learn from and they persevered. I am so proud of them.”

Students showed how they can use the 3D printers to demonstrate different types of power: wind, solar and water.

They also described what they learned about the printers when projects did not go as planned. For example, one student, Lucinda Varsas, related how a water wheel “got a little damaged because a piece of filament broke off, so we’re using an old water wheel for some practice.”

This STEM classroom grant program is operated in partnership with Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, managed by Battelle organization, the release stated.

The grant came about when TVA partnered with Bicentennial Volunteers Inc., a TVA retiree organization, to award a record $1.5 million in grants to educators in public schools to develop science, technology, engineering and math projects across the Tennessee Valley region, according to a press release from TVA.

“TVA is committed to supporting schools and educators who are inspiring an interest in STEM education in students across the seven-state region,” said Jeanette Mills, TVA executive vice president and chief external relations officer. “As we know, our young people will design and build the energy systems of the future. Providing resources and access to STEM education is key to inspiring innovation, and we’re proud to contribute to the next generation’s visionaries.”