Picking Up Steam: TVA awards Millington Middle STEM with $5,000

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By Taliyah Chalmers

In recent years the Millington Middle School STEM Department has been making headlines across the state of Tennessee.
One of the driving forces behind the students reaching high marks in Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology is Millington Middle Science instructor Malcolm Sanders. Recently Sanders applied for a grant through the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network through the Tennessee Valley Authority.
His application was one of 150 across the TVA service area to be accepted and granted $5,000. TVA Grant Relations Specialist TJ Thompson arrived to Millington Middle School Friday morning to present Sanders, his students and MMS Principal Selina Sparkman with the check.
“We believe in pouring back into our communities,” Thompson said. “At TVA, there’s a big charitable aspect. We like to contribute to our communities especially with TVA being big on powering and providing energy.
“We’re big on whenever we can assist our communities on implementing new programs or projects,” she added. “Especially on the school level, we definitely want to contribute.”
Sanders informed Thompson the newly formed Millington Middle STEAM Department will use the $5,000 awarded by TVA to buy equipment for the robotics program.
“We engage in robotics and programs use for our eighth graders and imply it to the seventh and sixth graders,” he noted. “And the high school curriculum will come to the eighth graders.”
The Millington Middle students are familiar with robotics and TVA after Sanders and other instructors provided them assignments related to the recent opening of the Solar Panel Farm in Millington.
“It feels wonderful anytime you can have a company like TVA come in and willing to help your program, it’s a wonderful feeling,” he said. “TVA along with Silicon Ranch are big supporters of our STEM program. They’ve donated money and time along the way. Anytime you can get support from your community it gives that family feel of community a lot in the middle school for us.”
TVA is a federally owned corporation in the United States and was created by congressional charter on May 18, 1933, to provide navigation, flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing, and economic development to the Tennessee Valley.
TVA’s service area covers most of Tennessee, portions of Alabama, Mississippi, and Kentucky. TVA also has connections to small parts of Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.
In 2012, the TSIN and TVA partnered to provide funding for STEM learning projects in Tennessee classrooms and schools. According to Thompson TVA started presenting checks to schools in their service areas giving away $500,000 last school year.
Since February, TVA has awarded $600,000 to 150 schools. The money presented was raised by the TVA’s retirees association.
“We definitely want kids to think STEM related,” We want kids to think about TVA when they’re looking for jobs. So the earlier we can get them involved in technology we can lead them onto the technology field.”
Sanders said the futures of his students motivates him to reach out for grants, get local businesses involved and stay in communication with STEM instructors at Millington Central High School.
Recently MCHS won a Regional competition in robotics. Sanders, who has been an teacher at Millington Middle for 18 years, said some of his former students were involved in that achievement.
“That’s how you want to affect students,” he said. “You want to get to know them as people first. Once you get to know them you can teach them whatever you want them to know. It’s that connection you have with them getting to know them as a person.
“It’s very important as far as building for a career,” Sander concluded. “Employees are looking for students with those 21st Century skills. We put the STEAM into it by including the Arts, long with music and the band. It goes into creating the whole student, the whole child to go out there and impress those employers.”