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Rutherford teachers awarded innovation grants from Nissan

December 6, 2016

Rutherford County Schools

How does a raisin react when dropped in various liquids? Will it sink, float or fizzle? 

Those are some of the questions kindergartners will explore at Blackman Elementary School after they return from winter break thanks to a new innovation minigrant the school has been awarded through Nissan North America and the Rutherford County Business Education Partnership.

Blackman teachers Ashley Thomas, Katrina Butler and Kim Marable are three of 64 Rutherford County and Murfreesboro City school teachers who received the grants on Tuesday, Dec. 6, during an awards breakfast held at the Stones River Country Club in Murfreesboro. 

The BEP Nissan Minigrant awards are given to teachers in Rutherford County and Murfreesboro who successfully demonstrate an idea for an innovative classroom program that impacts students. 

Nissan contributes the funding to offer the minigrant awards, in addition to several other programs throughout the year for educators and students,  BEP Director Amelia Bozeman said.

“Nissan has played such a crucial role for our students,” Bozeman said.

Randy Knight, vice president for manufacturing for Nissan North America, thanked teachers for looking for ways to engage students and promote lifelong learning. Knight has a special connection to education in Rutherford County because his wife was a school teacher for 30 years. In addition, he is a lifelong resident who was raised, educated and employed within the county, he said. 

"I didn't have to go anywhere to find God's country,” Knight said he tells people. 

At Blackman, the grant will fund a program the teachers call "Stemtastic Fridays.” STEM is an acronym for education programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Parents will be invited to work with their children to complete weekly experiments and activities that are designed to ignite student interest in STEM programs.

"It's a learning experience but we're trying to make it fun,” said Marable, who is an instructional coach at Blackman Elementary. ”Normally with kindergartners, they can't handle as much but that's why we want to start early.”

In addition to the raisin experiments, students will also complete activities using Lego bricks to design towers and learn the process of journaling about their processes and projects, Marable added. 

The following teachers with Rutherford County Schools received minigrants for the 2017 spring semester:


School Name

Name of Project

Kim Marable, Katrina Butler, and Ashley Thomas

Blackman Elementary

Stemtastic Fridays

Gayle Dawson

Blackman High School

Geometrically Building a Bridge to Your Future. 

Rebecca Jones

Blackman High School

DNA Goes to the Dogs

Zach Martin

Blackman Middle School

Blast off with STEM

Tyson Hoppe

Cedar Grove Elementary

Being an Acoustician; Sounds good to me!

Gene Cowart

Central Magnet School

Behavioral Engineering: Hoop Rats

Marc Guthrie and Scarlett Murphy

Central Magnet School

NASA Human Rover Project

Lauren Lane and Jenny Culp

Central Magnet School

Do the Rot Thing: Composting with Worms

Christa Demonbreun

Christiana Elementary

Cells Exploration

Amanda Amirault and Kelly Patterson

Christiana Elementary


Dawn Powell

Christiana Middle School

STEAM Through Coding with OZOBOTS

Emily Marshall

Eagleville School

Too Good To Waste

Emily Marshall

Eagleville School

Is Less Really More?

Christina Tibbs

Eagleville School

Move Over, Mark Zuckerberg

Amy Wilson

Oakland High School

Transformations and Tessellations

Alice Ruth Brank

Oakland High School

Heat-Energy Transfer

Preston Johnson

Oakland High School

Forensic Investigation of OTC Drugs

Justin Stanford

Oakland High School

Understanding Matter

John Dalton York

Riverdale High School

Physics Exploration with GoPro Cameras

Garry Gannon

Rock Springs Middle School

Buggy Racers

Clara Kaplan

Roy Waldron Elementary

STEM Studio: Can you code it?  Hands-On Enrichment for RTI

Julia Barry

Siegel High School

Carbon Dioxide Launched Cars

D. Riley Connolly

Siegel High School

Measuring Knee Stress with a Mechanical Model

Christina Hurt

Siegel High School

The Ins & Outs of Mammal Anatomy

Laura Martin, Paul Mittura, and Dana Newton

Siegel High School

Putt-Putt Propulsion Boats

Laura Martin, Jeff Martin, and Sharon Miller

Siegel High School

Organic Chemistry – Not Just the Organic in the Produce Department

Katie Harris

Siegel Middle School

Electromagnets:  The Source of the Force!

Heidi Redmon

Smyrna Elementary School

"Once Upon an Engineer"

Carin Miranda

Smyrna Middle School

The First Drop is Always the Biggest

Nicole Krushenski

Stewarts Creek Elementary

Driving for learning

Josh Hoevelmann

Stewarts Creek High School

Audio Cable Soldering

Amy Olt

Stewarts Creek High School

Alpacas To Go

Pam Stewart

Stewarts Creek High School

It's all in the genes

Pam Stewart

Stewarts Creek High School

Attack of the Superbugs: Students Fight Back

Ginger Adcock

Stewarts Creek Middle School

Math- Not Just a Workbook

Gina McClanhan

Walter Hill School

Brain "Building" in the Classroom