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O&R Stem Grant Helps Guide Port Jervis Students on a Journey of Discovery

Megan Wieboldt wanted to teach her seventh grade Life Science class at Port Jervis Middle School about echolocation.

That’s how bats and dolphins, for example, aim high-frequency sounds at objects and then gauge the time, direction and strength of the returning signal --- the echo --- to locate obstacles in their paths or other objects such as prey. It’s the same underlying principle for the science that created radar and sonar navigational devices.


A Life Science teacher for 14 years, Megan knew that, to make her lesson plan work, she needed to replicate field conditions in the controlled environment of the classroom. She selected the LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robotics kit with ultra-sound sensors for student teams to use to create a prototype to demonstrate echolocation. She drew up her lesson plan to emphasize team work, scientific observation, problem solving, data collection and analysis.


All she needed to do then was find a way to pay the $823.90 cost of the kits.   


Megan applied for and was awarded an O&R STEM Classroom Grant for the 2018-2019 school year, and the students got to work.


She said, “The Orange and Rockland grant is a very important thing for a teacher. It‘s allowing me to get materials for my students to help increase their knowledge that I would not necessarily be able to afford.”


Megan applied for an O&R STEM Classroom Grant for the 2019-2020 school year as well, and was awarded the $958 grant. That project features the study of animal skulls to illustrate higher scientific principles.

O&R today awarded grants throughout its service area totaling over $54,000 to support 63 creative, cutting-edge classroom projects, like this echolocation project, that focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).


In Orange County, O&R awarded 25 grants totaling $21,891.19 for the 2019-2020 school year. A complete list of this year’s Orange County winners is at the end of this press release.


O&R’s STEM Classroom Grants provided up to $1,000 each to educators at schools (pre-kindergarten through grade 12) and youth group leaders for the 2019-2020 school year in communities located within O&R’s service area. That encompasses: Rockland and parts of Orange and Sullivan counties in New York and parts of Bergen, Passaic and Sussex counties in New Jersey.


Talented, hard-working, thoughtful teachers, like Megan Wieboldt, have crafted ambitious, interesting, ingenious, sparkling lesson plans that sizzle. These out-of-the-box proposals are designed to challenge students to think, plan, act and achieve --- and have fun doing it.


View a video of the Classroom Grant Program in action at Port Jervis Middle School’s seventh grade Life Science class.


O&R President and CEO Robert Sanchez said, “This year’s winning proposals are impressive in their scope, their sophistication and their application. They are certainly well designed to educate, guide and train, but they also engage, entertain and inspire. Those are all the hallmarks of a successful program.”  


Over the past five years, O&R has awarded 197 STEM Classroom Grants totaling nearly $174,000. Those grants ranged from $197 to $1,000.


The grants were awarded based on a review of teacher-submitted proposals by the O&R STEM Education Advisory Council, a panel of educators and engineers assembled by O&R expressly for this purpose. This year, the Council reviewed 114 applications and awarded 63 grants.


Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc. (O&R) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc., one of the nation’s largest investor-owned energy companies. O&R is a regulated utility. It provides electric service to approximately 300,000 customers in southeastern New York State (where its franchise name is Orange & Rockland) and northern New Jersey (where it’s Rockland Electric Company) and natural gas service to approximately 130,000 customers in New York.


In Orange, O&R made 25 grants for 2019-2020 totaling nearly $22,000. The winners are: 

  • North Main Street Elementary School – Monroe - Katie Oppelt
  • Washingtonville Senior High School – Washingtonville – Melissa Benjamin
  • Monroe-Woodbury High School – Central Valley - John Nowicky
  • Orange-Ulster BOCES – Goshen - Patrick Killian
  • Pine Bush School District – Pakanasink Elementary - Circleville – Mariann Bott
  • Burke Catholic High School – Goshen - David Bernhardt
  • Smith Clove Elementary School – Central Valley - Aliza Whittel
  • Fort Montgomery Elementary School – Fort Montgomery - Kristen Magyar
  • Otisville Elementary School – Otisville – Chris Bennington
  • Enlarged City School District of Middletown – Twin Towers Middle School – Paul Voigtland
  • Middletown Day Nursery – Middletown - Kelly Jones and Sandra Wittens
  • Middletown Day Nursery – Middletown - Janice Matles and Sandra Wittens
  • Park Avenue elementary School - Warwick Valley Central School District - Brian Morgan
  • Smith Clove Elementary School – Central Valley – Eileen Moschetti
  • Port Jervis Middle School – Port Jervis – Megan Wieboldt
  • New Beginnings Learning Academy – Middletown - Robyn Eherts
  • Monhagen Middle School ---Middletown---Shanna Wilkin and Emily Soper
  • S.S. Seward Institute – Florida --- Lynn McGovern
  • 4-H Orange County Cooperative Extension – Middletown - DeAnna Sardella-Matthews
  • Tuxedo High School/Tuxedo Union Free School District - Tuxedo – Marco Margotta
  • Northern Academy of the Arts –Middletown - Jim Luan
  • Northern Academy of the Arts - Middletown – Wendyi Wang
  • Boy Scouts Troop 4, Woodbury, Woodbury Lions – Central Valley - Mindert Poutsma
  • Middletown High School – Middletown - Thomas Blon
  • Middletown High School – Middletown – Elle O’Connor