Starlab Planetarium

Large Grant Award – STARLAB Coming to Needham

The NEF announced the award of a $15,000 large grant from its 2015-2016 Large Grants cycle at the School Committee meeting on January 26th. The grant supports the purchase of a Basic STARLAB Portable Planetarium System (with weather and solar system units) for use by the Needham Science Center. The STARLAB can be used in gyms and performance centers and can accommodate up to thirty students when inflated.

STARLAB is an exciting way to spark students’ interest in science and increase their scientific literacy. It can be used to make meaningful curriculum connections for students across all grades and can build students’ skills and content knowledge in a way that ensures that students not only “know” science concepts, but also can use their scientific knowledge to investigate the natural world.

More Interdisciplinary Learning at Needham High School

The School Committee accepted two NEF Interdisciplinary Learning Initiative (ILI) grants at its January 26th meeting, totaling $48,019. These grants will help to solidify the broad and lasting impact of the ILI Collaborative Initiative, the collaboration between NHS and the NEF that is most well-known for the creation of the Greater Boston Project, an interdisciplinary class at NHS. The Da Vinci Workshop and several smaller interdisciplinary projects have also been created through this collaboration, now in its fourth year.

The first new grant provides a third year of funding for the “Interdisciplinary Learning Fund.” This fund, administered by both NHS and NEF representatives, was created to support small interdisciplinary units of study. Thus far, six multi-year mini-grants have been awarded.

A new, part-time Interdisciplinary Learning (IL) Specialist position will be created with the funding from the second grant. The IL Specialist will serve as a resource for all of NHS, and will also provide interdisciplinary learning guidance throughout the district.

To date, more than 20 teachers and 550 students at NHS have been impacted by the NEF’s support of interdisciplinary learning initiatives. These new grants will extend that impact to the 2016-17 school year.