Georgia College museum receives $150K grant

A nearly $150,000 grant awarded to Georgia College & State University’s Natural History Museum aims to help bring science to life in classrooms in five midstate counties.

The grant, provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, will be used for a two-year project that involves professors at the college teaching local elementary and middle-school teachers about current scientific knowledge.

After teachers from Baldwin, Jones, Hancock, Putnam and Wilkinson counties are trained, they will have an opportunity to take their students on a field trip, covered by the grant, to visit the college’s Natural History Museum and Planetarium, according to a Georgia College news release.

Two Georgia College professors have been scrambling to turn their plans for the $149,296 grant into action.

Bob Chandler, a biology professor, will help instruct the local teachers.

“For at least 15, if not 20, years we’ve been asked to go out to different schools and give a science talk,” he said.

“It’s going to be even neater for you to bring kids in.”

Teachers will be able to apply online for the “From Fossils to Space” project, and the program will start this year, Chandler said.

The application will be online Friday and will be due Sept. 4, said Rosalie Richards, a professor of chemistry and director of the science education center at Georgia College.

Teachers who participate in the program will receive credit toward their professional learning units for attending five sessions on school days between September and January.

College professors will offer the teachers new ways to meet the state’s performance standards in paleontology, earth science and astronomy, according to the news release.

This year, Richards and Chandler, who are leading the program, hope three teachers from each of the nearby counties will be part of the program.

After meeting with four of the five school systems Wednesday morning, Richards said that by Wednesday afternoon she already had started receiving calls from interested teachers.

“I don’t think we have a problem with recruitment,” she said.

Of 433 applicants for the grant, the Natural History Museum was one of 167 funded projects. Georgia College is matching the grant.

The overall cost of the two-year program is more than $300,000, Richards said.

“If this works well and we’re able to apply for another round after these two years, we’re hoping we can expand it to include more teachers,” she said.

To contact writer Eric Newcomer, call 744-4494.