Alcoa Electric and TVA work together to support community-wide learning about energy efficiency, meet STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) objectives and provide opportunities to develop skills that can prepare students for careers in technical fields.
Teachers in public schools that receive power from a TVA distributor can win TVA STEM grants up to $5,000. In 2022 alone, TVA distributed $1 million, in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated, a TVA retiree organization, and the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network. TVA gives preference to applications covering its primary areas of focus–environment, energy, economic development, and community problem solving.
Alcoa High School’s Career & Technical Education (CTE) class earned TVA STEM grants in 2022, 2021 and 2020 totaling $15,000. The funds paid for electrical test benches to increase the number of students who can learn how to program relays and use programmable logic controllers (PLCs), applicable to local technical and industrial jobs.
“Teacher Jerry Allison does a really good job preparing his class for work right here in the community. The test boards show students how to operate some of the work stations used in aluminum manufacturing as well as at Denso, which produces automotive products including inverters for hybrid vehicles,” Trentham says.
“These students also get an introduction to computer programming. Those who learn to run the PLCs will have a leg up if they choose to go on to electrical engineering school, and can take it far and beyond. Alcoa Electric is proud to partner with TVA to invest in future leaders through STEM education,” he says.
Allison’s proposal was inclusive in nature. He wrote, “STEM programs typically attract a larger number of male students. One of the goals of our CTE department is to encourage ‘non-traditional’ students to enroll in our classes. Our school counselors do a great job of introducing more female students into our STEM Technology program of study. We also have a significant number of students (26%) who are economically disadvantaged. It is a sad reality that so many students from poverty lack the parental involvement needed to have the greatest opportunity for academic success. This program offers students an opportunity to explore alternatives to a traditional four-year college that can put students on a path to many successful and rewarding careers.
“Twelve percent of our student body has been identified as having learning disabilities. The hands-on nature of the STEM Technology program provided through trainers such as those proposed in this grant application provides a great opportunity for these students to grow and succeed.”
Montvale Elementary School won a $5,000 TVA STEM grant in 2022. Teacher Joel Jackson’s proposal addressed making gardening accessible to all students, using methods that can accommodate the smaller spaces in which many of the families reside. “From window herb boxes to raised beds to aquaponic systems, the variety of methods is aimed at presenting gardening as an accessible and interesting endeavor that can be done almost anywhere, regardless of income level or living conditions.”
Trentham says, “They grew vegetables and fruit which they fed to students at the cafeteria. I think this is fascinating. It’s really great.”
Schools enrolled in TVA EnergyRight’s School Uplift program receive behavior-based strategic energy management (SEM) training that helps them integrate energy efficiency practices into their daily operations to save energy and money. Schools compete to win grants for infrastructure upgrades to reduce energy costs and improve the quality of the learning environment.
TVA EnergyRight Educational Workshops
Eye Spy Energy Kids’ Workshop
TVA EnergyRight and Alcoa Electric partner to bring Spark, Bolt, Zap and their other EnergyRight Monster friends to elementary schools across the community, teaching students where energy comes from, how we use it and ways to save at home. Students can continue the energy-saving fun with their families using Eye Spy Energy Kits.
Energy Evolution High School Workshop
TVA EnergyRight and Alcoa Electric are working together to offer engaging, interactive workshops that empower high school students to reduce their environmental impact and lead the next wave of our planet’s energy evolution.