Toyota TAPESTRY Grants for Teachers

Toyota Motor Sales USA and the National Science Teachers Association

Contact: Toyota TAPESTRY c/o NSTA

1840 Wilson Boulevard

Arlington, VA 22201-3000

(800) 807-9852

eMail: tapestry@nsta.org

web: http://www.nsta.org/programs/toyota.htm

Fax-on-demand: (888) 400-6782

Toyota Motor Sales has proven itself to be a dedicated contributor to education and technology for K-12 schools over the past decade, and the company continues to help fund K-12 science initiatives through its TAPESTRY program.

The program, which was enacted in partnership with the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), offers grants to K-12 science teachers for innovative projects that enhance science education in their school or district. Though the TAPESTRY program does not focus specifically on technology, the grants can be used to fund projects that use technology to enhance the teaching and learning of science.

The Toyota TAPESTRY program offers 50 one-year grants, with a total of $500,000 going to qualified teachers each year. Proposals must describe the project, including the impact the teacher expects it to have on students, and must include a budget of up to $10,000.

This year’s deadline for proposals is January 20, 2000, and all projects chosen to receive funding must begin by June 1, 2000 and have completed all spending by May 31, 2001.

Teachers receiving awards can expect to be notified by March 1, and awardees will be honored at a special ceremony on April 6 at the NSTA National Convention in Orlando. Travel expenses will be covered by Toyota.

The Toyota TAPESTRY program is open to elementary teachers who are responsible for teaching some science in their classroom and to middle- and high-school science teachers in the U.S.

The secondary science teachers must teach at least two science classes per day to qualify. All applicants must have at least three years of experience teaching science in a K-12 school, not including the current year. These criteria apply only for the Project Director, who may gather a project staff consisting of educators of any discipline.

There are two categories for which grants will be awarded. All projects receiving awards in the Environmental Education category must emphasize conservation of natural resources and protection of the environment. Teachers can use innovative methods, including computers and the internet, to help students become more aware of their role in the natural world.

Projects hoping to receive awards in the Physical Science Applications category must find significant means of relating the laws, principles, and concepts of science–including physics and chemistry–to phenomena and circumstances which are relevant to students’ lives.

Proposals may be submitted by one teacher or by a consortium of up to five, but only the appointed Project Director will be the contact person and the sole administrator of the grant money. Additionally, the Project Director’s principal must submit a letter of support for the proposed project and must sign the Toyota TAPESTRY proposal cover form.

The appointed Project Director will be expected to submit progress reports highlighting the project’s advancement and a final report to NSTA.

All grant money will be payable in one installment to schools receiving the awards. The grant providers require that a special account be set up solely for the purpose of distributing the money.

Proposals themselves must be of standard format (exact specifications are outlined in the Proposal Requirements fax) and consist of:

• an abstract (one page)

• the proposal cover form

• a description of planned activities (two pages)

• a rationale (one page)

• a potential impact outline (one page)

• an evaluation plan (one page)

• a project calendar (one page)

• a budget (one page)

• project staff vitae (one page per team member, limit five)

• letters of support (one page each, limit three)

1997 award winner Jim Calaway, a ninth grade science teacher from MacArthur Junior High in Oklahama, advises those applying for TAPESTRY grants to exhibit “a creative use of technology.” He believes applicants should “want students to see an integrated approach to science and technology.”

Among the advice Calaway would give to current applicants: “It really helps to collaborate with other entities, like universities, and to get parental involvement. We want to make sure all groups are involved, especially those that are underrepresented.” He also noted that, “If you can, you want to get some teacher training out of it. It is important that you be able to disseminate your goal to other people.”

Calaway has become somewhat of an expert on grant writing as a result of his involvement with the Toyota TAPESTRY grant, and he now teaches a course on this subject at the local college. He advised, “You have to think: If I’m a grant reader, what would I like to read? You have to show them the heart of what you are trying to do. Don’t overuse the technical jargon.”

He also added that it helps to “handle your PR well, and be aggressive and steadfast. I applied eight years in a row before I received the grant, but it was well worth the wait.”

Some 1999 awards that make use of computers to teach science in innovative ways are:

• Holy Rosary Academy’s “Will-o’-the-Wisp” project, in which 200 students will conduct an investigation of the willow wetlands habitat in a local Falls of the Ohio State Park. Students will be using desktop publishing programs to map out trail guides to the area.

• Students at Dr. Michael M. Krop High School will be using state-of-the-art technology to build a solar powered robotic boat which can navigate, take water samples, test the water at sites, and transmit important data via remote control.

• Tanana Middle School students in Alaska will use technology to study the natural phenomena native to their area. All findings will be analyzed and presented using multimedia technology.

• High school and elementary school students will work together to produce a professional-quality multimedia CD-ROM children’s book on chemistry in Winter Springs, Fla.

• Students at Mills High School in California will create a new plan to change the runway pattern of a local airport using CBL units, ULI computer boards, computer probes, and a computerized weather station.

Brief abstracts of all the 1999 award recipients can be found on the program’s web site.

Some other ideas provided by the foundation to help with proposals include:

• novel instructional strategies

• curriculum development and implementation

• creative uses of technology

• involvement with the community and/or industry

• collaborative programs among students and teachers

• professional and staff development

• innovative uses of educational equipment

• involvement of at-risk or minority students

• multidisciplinary or interdepartmental participation

• in-class or extracurricular activities

• solution of a local community problem

Applications and more information on the proposal process can be obtained via the NSTA web site or by fax-on-demand.