HARLINGEN — Nora Ann Cantu is looking forward to setting up the new science lab.
“We’ve really been trying to set up this science lab for quite awhile,” said Cantu, who teaches fifth grade at Long Elementary School.
“We have sinks, we have counters, and so me and my principal have been really trying to get it up and going,” she said.
Now a grant from the Harlingen Area Educational Foundation is making that possible. HAEF has just awarded a $1,900 grant for the Long Science Lab, and that’s not all. The nonprofit is awarding a total of nine grants worth $17,941 to six Harlingen school district campuses. Those campuses are: Treasure Hills, Travis, Milam, Long and Bowie elementary schools and Harlingen High School South.
Some of the more interesting ones went to Treasure Hills, Travis and Milam for “sensory pathways,” said Shane Strubhart, spokesperson for the district.
“Each campus got $3,000 to implement a sensory pathway on the floors of their campuses,” Strubhart said. “As students walk the hallways, it gives them an opportunity to engage their sensory needs. As the students look down at the floor, there are different kinds of pathways that you can pursue.”
For example, a sensory pathway could be used to teach children about the planets. In this pathway, children could literally jump from one planet to another, Strubhart said.
“As a kid jumps from one planet to the other they read the name out loud and that’s one way that they can learn the planets,” Strubhart said.
Another pathway could teach the alphabet.
“As the kids are walking down the hallway they’re looking down, they’re reading and stepping on the letters and learning the alphabet at the same time,” Strubhart said. “There are all kinds of different pathways and each campus will have an opportunity to research what they want.”
Harlingen High School South plans to use its $728.44 grant to create an outdoor classroom in its butterfly garden. The classroom is created in honor of Homero Gomez Gonzalez, a fierce defender of central Mexico’s monarch butterfly population who was reportedly killed by loggers in January.
“What they want to do is put benches out there and engrave his name on the benches to honor him,” Strubhart said.
And then there’s the Long Science Lab.
“I’m super honored,” Cantu said. “I’m so grateful that HAEF sees the importance of science education and of giving kids the opportunity to have an engaging time during the day where they can really get hands-on.”
Grants to Harlingen school district by Harlingen Area Educational Foundation
• Long Science Lab $1,960
• South Butterfly Garden $728.44
• Treasure Hills Sensory Pathway $3,000
• Travis Sensory Pathway $3,000
• Milam Sensory Pathway $3,000
• Bowie TV Studio $1,403.95
• Milam Eduspark $894.00
• Milam STEM Lab $1,964.00
• Treasure Hills Mobile Maker Space $2,050.80