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Riverview School Receives $2,000 Grant for S.T.E.A.M. Beautification Project

Riverview School has received a $2,000 Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant for an indoor/outdoor learning space to support the school’s Life Science units. The S.T.E.A.M. Beautification Project will add an exterior garden at the school providing habitats and food for local wildlife and a living “textbook” for student research and observation.
The grant application, which was prepared by Renee Brady, elementary instructional STEAM coach and Amanda Shepler, a Riverview parent and Tonawanda alum, was based on the goal of creating a project that would allow students to apply critical science, math, technology, engineering and art skills to revitalize the entrance and exterior of the school.

The grant was tailored to support the beautification project already in the works by Claudia Panaro, school principal, Mandy Sampson, teaching assistant and Rosemary Gresock, first grade teacher.

The school’s kindergarten to third-graders, all between the ages of 5 and 8, had strong opinions about what needed to be in the project. Through its student leadership team, it decided that reading benches should be added to allow peer tutoring, bird houses and feeders should be added and that students will build them and that new foliage be planted in the foyer that wasn’t “droopy and sad.”

“This is an excellent opportunity for our students to experience hands-on learning that will build authentic skills and inspire a love of science,” said Mrs. Panaro.

Students will conduct online research into local weather patterns, foliage tolerances and preferences to determine which hardy foliage is suitable to be landscaped in the garden area. They will practice map reading skills and learn how to pot plants. After completing research on local wildlife, they will research birdhouse blueprints and then use tools to create the homes they select. They will decide the bird house locations, based on the wind and sun. In a nod to the school’s leadership Lighthouse School designation, employees from Lowe’s will assist students to design and create two lighthouse sculptures for the garden area.

As the plants and wildlife develop, teachers will be able to use the area as an extension of their classroom. The project is in its beginning stages and it is expected that students will be able to begin building and learning in the garden May 1.
The Tona 2020 plan was kept in mind and the project was designed with portable resources that could be moved to a new elementary campus.

Staff and students at the school look forward to sharing the S.T.E.A.M. Beautification Project with the Tonawanda community. Neighborhood students will be encouraged to bring their parents back to the garden after school and use it to teach their family about the wonders of the outside.