Bright Ideas Grants Spark Inspiration Across NC

Electric cooperatives have partnered with NC teachers for nearly 30 years to bring creative learning to life through Bright Ideas grants. Having provided more than $14.3 million in grants and funded over 13,000 projects since 1994, Bright Ideas has impacted millions of students across grade levels and curricula. More than 600 creative learning projects in 87 NC counties won funding in 2021, advancing education and enhancing student success. Here’s a look at several of those projects from across the state:

“Learning Science with LEGO”

Sponsoring Cooperative: Rutherford EMC

Teacher: Danna Ritchie, from Catawba Heights Elementary School

Participating Students: 50

Second graders learned about force and motion by using LEGO bricks to build race cars and compete against their peers. Through Bright Ideas, students were excited to learn about physics, and Danna Ritchie has a new teaching tool to use in the future.

“Drumming Around the World”

Sponsoring Cooperative: Roanoke Electric Cooperative

Teacher: Roger Brown, from Bertie Middle School

Participating Students: 450

Students applied their skills and understanding of rhythm by creating their own music on drums provided by a Bright Ideas grant. Students learned and performed music inspired by cultural genres such as Cuban and African, and they ended the project with a concert in front of their school and community.

“STEM Innovators”

Sponsoring Cooperative: Lumbee River EMC

Teacher: Sylvia Beckham, from Seventy-First Classical Middle School

Participating Students: 170

Through Bright Ideas, middle school teachers can access a variety of STEM projects and resources to teach students about engineering and invention. Some STEM projects from this year include building solar powered cars, 3D printing and coding LEGO robots. Lumbee River EMC has supported the implementation of classroom training kits that will allow Sylvia Beckham to teach next year’s students how to build and fly drones.

“STEMulating the Mind”

Sponsoring Cooperative: Tri-County EMC

Teacher: Rebecca Richards, from Grantham Elementary

Participating Students: 300

This Bright Ideas project used supplies from Sphero Mini Education and local businesses to teach students how to program, code and engineer. Thanks to these resources, elementary school students were able to practice valuable problem-solving strategies and hone real world skills.

“Time to Cook”

Sponsoring Cooperative: Albemarle EMC

Teacher: Jennifer Robinson, from Moyock Middle School

Participating Students: 200

Through this project, students have been encouraged to explore foods and gain confidence and skills in the kitchen. Middle schoolers have learned the basics, such as budgeting for food, planning meals, reading recipes and cooking meals. Some of the dishes students have made in the classroom so far include cinnamon sugar biscuits and cinnamon roll waffles.

“STEAM Education”

Sponsoring Cooperative: Haywood EMC

Teacher: Sam Yancey, from Haywood County Schools

Participating Students: 200

Students from second through fifth grade learned how upcycle household and classroom materials using sustainability stations funded by Bright Ideas. They were able to create and combine recycled materials to produce sustainable objects, and this project has allowed students to become experts in finding alternative uses for plastic materials. Teacher Sam Yancey hopes the new resources will give his students the chance to shape the world into a better place in the future.