Devon Energy awards NISD’s OLC with $15,000 grant for youth science area
Devon Energy presented Northwest ISD’s Outdoor Learning Center with a $15,000 grant on Thursday, Jan. 11, which the facility plans to use to expand earth science offerings, particularly to early childhood students.
Amy Hollenshead, coordinator of the facility, applied for the grant with the intention of encouraging students and teachers to “get their hands dirty” to experience science firsthand, complementing book-based learning. It will fund the creation of a “soils play lab,” where young students can explore and build using earth soils to develop scientific process skills.
“We believe in a sustainable future that starts with our youngest learners,” she wrote in her grant application. “We believe this grant [will] allow us to give experience to students who may or may not have access to being outdoors and knowing more about soils.”
Thanks to the grant, the OLC will allow more than 1,500 Northwest ISD kindergartners explore nature “through the lens of scientific inquiry,” Ms. Hollenshead wrote. In all, about 3,400 to 4,450 young students are expected to use the new lab annually.
The OLC resides on roughly 200 acres in Northlake, Texas, and provides Northwest ISD students with unique learning experiences in nature. The current form of the facility opened in 2016, featuring multiple structures, such as creek and pond pavilions, that assist in studying the environment and various habitats.
Devon Energy annually awards science program funding to schools in its coverage area through the company’s Science Giants Grants initiative. The initiative is designed to spark students’ interest in science subjects and evaluates grant applicants on their ideas’ originality, demonstrated vision to improve achievements in science and benefit to future students.