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Grant goes to energy education program

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A grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation will help students in middle schools throughout the state integrate art, science, technology and energy topics through a Clay Center education program.

The Benedum Foundation, a longtime supporter of the Clay Center, recently awarded a grant of $194,000 to stretch through two years for a program focused on the energy industries in the state called "emPowered Stories."

The "emPowered Stories" will allow students in seven participating middle schools in Barbour, Boone, Gilmer and Jackson counties, as well as one yet-to-be-finalized location, to produce digital stories that explore energy issues in their communities.

Specially trained teachers will help the students produce 10-minute, multimedia video exhibitions that include oral histories, interviews, video segments and photography, tied together with voiceover narratives. The completed videos will be displayed as part of a special Clay Center exhibit.

The stories will address community issues and questions posed by the natural gas and energy industries in a creative way that facilitates 21st Century learning as well as strengthening skills in the STEAM disciplines of science, technology, engineering, art and math, according to the Clay Center.

The project also is intended to encourage students to take college preparatory science and elective technology courses in high school and then ultimately pursue careers in science or technology.

The new outreach program will start with teacher training in January 2014 and will run through September 2016. The project will include the creation of professional learning communities that will be made up of teachers and after-school staff from the participating schools. Clay Center Professional Development and Curriculum Coordinator Greg Macer will train the teachers in the process and production of digital storytelling.

The Benedum Foundation gift will help the Clay Center meet a challenge grant from the Energy Corporation of America Foundation, which was awarded earlier this year.