Sarasota County teachers awarded grants for water resources education projects

News Release

Seven Sarasota County teachers are among the educators who were awarded Splash! school grants through the "Southwest Florida Water Management District(Southwest Florida Water Management District)":/.

This year 206 "Splash! grants(Splash! School Grants)":/education/schoolgrants were awarded to educators across "the District's 16-county region":/data/map.

Mary Margaret Hull, lead communications coordinator, attributes the effectiveness of the grant program in Sarasota County to the strong partnership with Sarasota County Schools, which helped get the word out to teachers. Susan Puchalla, Sarasota County science program specialist, serves as the District's liaison to teachers.

"These teachers are receiving a small amount of money but are able to accomplish so much," said Hull. "Grant recipients also use the District's collection of curriculum materials and other free educational resources."

The Sarasota County awardees include:

* Susan Roberts, *Brookside Middle School*, will receive $2,543. Students will build five-gallon shower systems to practice saving water. They will also create a hydroponics garden on campus, install a rain barrel and perform water-related classroom experiments.

* Anita Wexler, *Brookside Middle School*, will receive $2,450. Students will take educational field trips to Selby Botanical Gardens and Myakka River State Park before creating a native Florida plant garden on campus.

* Mary Compton, *Gulf Gate Elementary School*, will receive $1,490. Students will take educational field trips to Oscar Scherer State Park and Red Bug Slough to perform a series of water quality tests. They will also grow plants in Earth Boxes as a comparison to their existing hydroponics garden.

* Barbara Stella, *Laurel Nokomis School*, will receive $4,265. Students will take educational field trips to Oscar Scherer State Park to monitor South Creek and other water sources, perform water quality tests and create educational literature to share with park rangers and park guests.

* Sue Forrest, *Phoenix Academy*, will receive $2,211. Students will grow plants through their existing hydroponics system and create public service announcements about their project.

* Lauren Watson, *Sarasota School of Arts and Sciences*, will receive $4,330. Students will perform a series of water quality experiments using a stream model and water treatment model.

* Chip Phillips, *Southside Elementary School*, will receive $853. Students will study water conservation and create books describing water-saving tips.

The goal of the Splash! school grant program is to provide hands-on learning opportunities that teach students about their local watersheds and the freshwater resources within them. Splash! school grants provide up to $5,000 per school on a reimbursement basis only and are available to public, private and homeschool teachers.

"Past Splash! grant projects(2009 Splash! school grants)":/education/schoolgrants/projects.php include water quality monitoring of local lakes and rivers, the development of water-conserving gardens on school properties, and outreach campaigns designed to promote awareness of water-conserving practices.

In addition to Splash! grant funding, the District offers educators free teacher training workshops, speakers for classroom presentations and free educational materials. The publications are correlated to Florida's Sunshine State Standards and can also be ordered on the District's web site at " publications)":/publications.