SCC receives ECOLAB science grant

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 20, 2021

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LAPLACE — St. Charles Catholic High School is a proud recipient of the ECOLAB/ECOLAB NPO 2020 Grant in the amount of $18,000 as part of their Sustaining a Legacy of Innovation during a Global Pandemic Initiative. The goal of this partnership is to encourage and reward creativity and innovation in the classroom. St. Charles Catholic has long been an educational leader in the River Parishes, and with a recent award from EcoLab, SCC will be able to continuously improve the resources and equipment available in their physics, chemistry and biology labs. SCC’s aim is to help students develop deep, critical and quantitative thinking skills while increasing their Science ACT score. Over 300 students and four science teachers will benefit from this grant as the science department commits these funds to their class projects. This year, the science department has many plans for the monetary award, including upgrading microscopes for more detailed biological and chemical studies, purchasing Microbits for use in the robotics classes and the improving the air exhaust systems in the labs to allow for more frequent and complex lab experiments.

SCC juniors participate in a special lab with Deacon Tom, utilizing many of the equipment pieces in the chemistry lab to complete their experiments.

The updated microscopes will allow students to use the latest in available technology in the study of microorganisms and to explore cellular biology while engaging in the real-time processes used by scientists. Next Generation Science Standards emphasize processes that require students to ask questions about the world around them. They further this curiosity through hypothesizing, investigating, making inferences and building their own theories. Providing quality microscopes will allow students to build skills in the areas of STEM that will allow them to expound on what they have learned in the classroom.

Robotics has purchased Microbits with the ECOLAB grant. The lessons in Microbits introduced the Comets to various tools needed in coding including data handling, animations and various forms of computational thinking. SCC updated the Hummingbird Robots with money from the grant. Hummingbird taught the students to design, program and build a robot out of materials that they have on hand in the classroom. After learning how to use the hummingbird components they created animated Vincent Van Gogh projects. The projects were based on an art exhibit held at school called the Traveling Art exhibits where SCC facilitates interdisciplinary learning. After experiencing an art exhibit and discussing the style of Van Gogh, the students each researched the extensive work of Van Gogh. Each student chose a work of art to paint and animate with their robotics. The projects had to incorporate light and movement to a work of art by Van Gogh incorporating the Microbit technology. Students will use the ECOLAB grant to also purchase Finch robots that work in conjunction with the Microbit. Their upcoming project will be a Mardi Gras Parade Route in which 3D printed floats will fit onto Finch robots. The Microbits will be programmed to allow for lights and movement on the floats as they follow a parade route established by the students through the classroom.

The robotics class created replica Van Gogh paintings complete with moving parts, such as this example’s boats rocking in the waves and it’s blinking stars in the sky, using Hummingbird robots.

SCC would like to express gratitude to ECOLAB for providing the opportunity for our students to experience hands on activities in STEM. The students will be able to further develop their skills of reasoning, critical thinking, problem solving, flexibility, collaboration and creativity with the help of this grant. These vital skills will certainly impact their futures.

“We are very thankful to the ECOLAB Foundation and ECOLAB Garyville for their support of science education in the River Parish area,” said Dr. Courtney Millet, principal of St. Charles Catholic High School. “This grant will allow us to continue to provide STEM opportunities for our students. Furthermore, this grant not only provides support to our organization, but also the community we serve by allowing us to develop students with critical thinking skills to solve real-life problems in their homes, communities and future careers.”