NASHVILLE, Tenn. ― The Tennessee Valley Authority, in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated (a TVA retiree organization), recently awarded Jefferson and Robertsville Middle Schools each $5,000 for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education projects. The grant award is a part of $580,000 in competitive STEM grants awarded to 161 schools across TVA’s seven-state service territory.

The project at Jefferson Middle School seeks to address a unique Aedes-related mosquito-borne disease, La Crosse Encephalitis (LACE), is the leading pediatric-related arbovirus in the continental United States. LACE is endemic to southern Appalachia, where approximately 75% of all cases in the United States now occur.  The funds from this grant will put GPS-enabled devices in student hands and engage students in the agricultural fields of entomology and geospatial sciences. Students will increase surveillance and decrease response times to pathogens that put human and animal health and food security at risk.  Teacher recipient, Brian Smith stated, “Entomology and geospatial skills are not typically taught in school. Thus, there is a critical need to increase the awareness of agricultural sciences and to develop students with the desire to pursue entomology and geospatial technologies as career pathways.  Additionally, students will report their field data to the University of Tennessee Agriculture Institute. The UTAI will then report to the students the mosquito types so they can continue their project.”

The project Robertsville Middle School submitted will fund materials and equipment used for the Technology Student Association (TSA) club, which includes a 3-D printer, Pico Scope, and digital photography equipment to name a few. Robertsville Middle School teacher recipient, Sandra Burnette stated, “Our TSA club is grateful and excited to receive the grant provided by TVA and the Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated because the funds will provide much needed equipment and materials for STEM education offered through the TSA club.” Kirk Renegar Ed.D., RMS principal, said, “As STEM education is such a pivotal part of the instructional program at RMS, we are very grateful for this wonderful grant provided by TVA and the Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated.  We are working diligently to continue to expand our STEM program and this grant will certainly benefit our students in a major way.”

Superintendent Bruce Borchers stated, “We are so thankful for the $5,000 grants for both Jefferson and Robertsville Middle Schools.  Both of these schools and the Oak Ridge School District are committed to STEM education and experiences for our students and are grateful that TVA is promoting STEM education across the valley.”

Educators in our region submitted projects large and small, to further their STEM education initiatives in the classroom. The competitive grant program provided teachers an opportunity to apply for funding up to $5,000 and preference was given to grant applications that explored TVA’s primary areas of focus: environment, energy, economic and career development and community problem solving. Schools who receive grant funding must receive their power from a TVA distributor. “The goal of the program was to help further STEM education across the valley,” said Rachel Crickmar, TVA Community Relations Program Manager. “We knew this program would be popular and competitive and now we’re are looking forward to seeing the impact these projects have.”

A full list of the grant recipients can be found at

The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power companies serving nearly 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation.