Twelve Brevard County teachers receive $9,985 for project funding
By Chris Fish
MELBOURNE -- Florida Power & Light Company recently funded 12 Brevard County teacher science experiments to further student understanding of renewable energy.
The 12 teachers in Brevard County received a total of $9,985 in grants. The organization provided each teacher funding, ranging from $500 to $2,500, depending on the needs of the experiment.
Maureen Wilt, education program manager for Florida Power & Light, said the grants help further students' understanding of energy, so one day the state of Florida can benefit from their education.
"In a perfect world, children would be exposed to energy and come up with the next greatest invention to power Florida," she said. "We do this to make sure children understand energy. Great science teachers want to do projects, but they don't always have the funds to do so."
Ms. Wilt said the experiment gives children a chance to participate in a realm they may not have had the opportunity to experiment with originally.
"We are getting kids excited by doing things themselves," she said. "Kids are able to get out and try something new, whether that be working on a solar car or a wind turbine."
For the past four years, The Florida Power & Light Company has funded 175 teachers with more than $175,000 for classroom projects.
Ms. Wilt said the criterion the company was looking for depended on the guidelines of the project and whether or not the project followed the educational guidelines of the state of Florida.
"All of the projects have to be related to some form of energy," she said. "Teachers created objectives (based around) standards required by Sunshine Law and put together a plan of how to accomplish what they want to do."
Julia Wakefield, account executive and public relations representative for Florida Power & Light, said the company also looks for an innovative project to fund.
Funding for the projects comes from the NextEra Energy Foundation, which is funded by shareholders of Florida Power & Light parent company, NextEra Energy Inc., organizers said.
NextEra Energy Inc. is the nation's largest producer of renewable energy from the wind and sun.
Organizers said award recipients are chosen by the National Education Energy Development project, which is a nonprofit organization that works with energy companies and agencies to bring a balanced energy curriculum and training to the nation's classroom.
The winning teachers and schools in Brevard County are: Elizabeth Faulkner of Apollo Elementary School; Naim Torlak of Bayside High School; Teresa Arrouet of Brevard Virtual School; Somer Y. Sutton of Heritage High School; Randy Lyons of Heritage High School; Sherry Love of Jupiter Elementary; Tonya Doughty and Christine Gayle of Jupiter Elementary; Joseph Harvey of Merritt Island High School/DaVinci Academy of Aerospace Technology; Holly Mentillo of Ocean Breeze Elementary School; Stacy O'Connor and Tom Englert of R.L. Stevenson School of the Arts.
Completed projects may be featured on Florida Power & Light's website at www.FPL.com/solarstations.