Free interactive classroom software for four weeks

Nonprofit organizations, such as teachers’ associations and school foundations, are eligible to apply for this free, four-week loan of the XPRESS Audience Response System from Genieve Systems. XPRESS enhances audience involvement by allowing instructors to take votes and receive instant feedback from up to 300 people. The system is capable of administering quizzes, tests, buzz-ins, games, and training, according to the company.

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Up to $5K in musical instruments, instrument repairs

The Melody program is designed to provide musical instruments and instrument repairs to existing K-12 school music programs that have no other source of financing to purchase additional musical instruments or materials. Applicants whose music programs lack institutional financial support and whose students qualify for financial assistance will receive greater consideration. The applicant school must have an ongoing music program that is at least three years old.

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$25K to form mentoring programs to teach math

Through its Advancing Student Achievement program, the Actuarial Foundation awards monetary grants to schools and nonprofit groups throughout the United States and Canada. The basic requirement for schools or groups seeking funding is that they develop a viable mentoring program involving actuaries in the teaching of mathematics to children in private or public schools. The program brings together actuaries and educators in local classroom environments with the belief that interaction with real-world mentors will boost students’ interest and achievement in math. The Actuarial Foundation provides a local network of actuaries ready to participate, as well as suggestions on how to integrate math concepts from the workplace into the classroom. Groups applying for grants will be given wide latitude in designing programs that enhance learning and create a “love of math” in each student.

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Prizes for outstanding student-created web sites

The ThinkQuest competition, sponsored by the Oracle Foundation, promotes multicultural collaboration and learning by encouraging students to develop creative web sites focused on topic categories. Students work in teams to build creative and educational web sites that explore globally relevant subjects. Diverse teams made up of members from more than one school, community, or country are encouraged. Students between the ages of 9 and 19 are invited to form teams of three to six students, supervised by a teacher-coach. Teams will have approximately seven months to work on their web sites, focusing on their chosen topic area. Contest winners will receive prizes from the Oracle Foundation, including travel to the annual ThinkQuest Live event. In addition, national winners may be honored and awarded prizes by national partners of the foundation. Web sites must be entered by March 22, 2006. Coaches can enroll their teams now, and the official competition begins on or after August 15.

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Cash awards, prizes for best student-designed toys

Sally Ride Science, Smith College, Hasbro Inc., Southwest Airlines, Sony Corp., and Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, are giving students in grades five through eight the chance to step out of their classrooms and broaden their engineering, science, and design skills by creating their dream toy for the TOYchallenge program. The mission of this fun-fueled toy and game design competition is to motivate kids, especially girls, to pursue science, engineering, and education careers. TOYchallenge 2006 will launch on September 12. To participate, design teams must find an adult coach (18 years of age or older) and sign up (the fee is $25 per team); choose from themed-toy categories such as “Games for the Family,” “Get out and Play,” and “Toys that Teach”; and create and submit their preliminary-round entry, which consists of a written description and visual presentation of their original toy or game concept. National showcases and a final judging and awards ceremony will follow. Both boys and girls in grades five through eight may participate, but at least half of the members of each team must be girls. All submissions will be judged on originality, creativity, engineering elegance, feasibility, design process description, team participation, and clarity of communication. (Note: Sign-up period ends Dec. 31; preliminary entries are due in early January.)

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$250 per award for aerospace education, activities

The Aerospace Education Foundation (AEF) Educator Grant Program is designed to promote aerospace education activities in kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms where no support for such activities is currently available. The program encourages the development of innovative aerospace activities within the prescribed curriculum. It also encourages establishing an active relationship between school and their local Air Force Association organization. Applicants may apply once every 12 months, and schools may receive up to two grants per year.

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$2,000 per award for exceptional character-ed initiatives

The ninth annual National Schools of Character awards program recognizes K-12 schools and districts that demonstrate outstanding character-education initiatives that yield positive results in student behavior, school climate, and academic performance. Although winners may differ in method, content, and scope, all emphasize core ethical values such as honesty, respect, responsibility, and caring. Applicants are encouraged look at the criteria “Character Education Quality Standards” to determine whether they might qualify. Selected schools and districts receive a cash award of $2,000, national recognition, and a featured position in the Character Education Partnership’s “National Schools of Character” publication.

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Up to $8,000 in matching book funds for schools

The Matching Book Grant Program offers Guided Reading and Independent Reading Collections. Guided Reading Collections consist of six copies each of 18 titles. Independent Reading Collections consist of one copy each of 108 titles. With each set of Guided Reading and/or Independent Reading Collections purchased at the regular price, an additional set of books will be included. The Literacy Empowerment Foundation has increased the size of the matching grants available to $8,000 per school. A school can now order $16,000 worth of books and pay only $8,000. Any amount from $100 to $8,000 will be matched.

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$20M to boost U.S. history education, civic participation

The objective of CPB’s American History and Civics Initiative is to catalyze new partnerships among public television stations, filmmakers and other content developers, the education community, the high-technology sector, and others to design new, groundbreaking media projects that measurably improve the learning of American history and enhance civic participation among middle and high school students. Any public or private, nonprofit, educational, or commercial entity is eligible to apply for a Research & Development (R&D) grant as a “Managing Partner” under the terms of this RFP. Likewise, any public or private, nonprofit, educational, or commercial entity is eligible to serve as a subordinate “Key Partner” in a proposal. Only R&D grantees may apply for American History and Civics Initiative follow-on “Prototype Creation” (Phase 2) or “Production and Implementation” (Phase 3) grants.

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Columnist says he’s not at all turned on by PC-Turnoff Week

San Jose Mercury News columnist Mike Langberg criticizes the organizers of PC-Turnoff Week for failing to recognize the proper balance between children’s computer use and other activities. “While no one could argue against limiting excessive computer use, turning the computer off for a week does nothing to genuinely help parents,” writes Lanberg. (Note: This site requires registration.)

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