Students at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School roared Tuesday when they learned the school had earned a $25,000 grant from Devon Energy Corp. to outfit a new earth science lab.
Devon officials and Oklahoma City school board members surprised students and faculty with the award.
School board member Phil Horning said a surprise was appropriate for April Fool’s Day.
Exec praises teachers
Devon executive Frank Rudolph joked he was leaving the Oklahoma City-based oil and natural gas producer to become a teacher before lauding the efforts of the four third-grade teachers who applied for the grant.
“They submitted a great project,” he said.
Marsha Grace, who led the grant team, said she did not expect the school to win the $25,000 Science Giants award, but she promised to spend the money wisely.
“We will make the greatest science lab in the United States of America,” she said, as students cheered.
The King Lions also roared their appreciation for Devon, which has given out more than $500,000 in recent years to support innovative science projects at schools in the U.S. and Canada.
The Science Giants program originated at Devon’s Houston office in 2008 before spreading to the company’s other areas of operation.
“It was so well-received in Houston that we ... decided to roll it out into some of our field areas,” said Wendi Schuur, Devon’s director of community relations.
3 states get grants
Devon has awarded grants to schools in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Canada to bolster programs that help educate the next generation of scientists.
“Our industry desperately needs people that have an interest in science and math,” Schuur said.
At King, Grace said she and fellow third-grade teachers Mary Geurin, Susan Murray and Beth Smith were encouraged to apply for the Devon grant. She said they outlined a plan to turn an empty classroom into an earth science lab that could give students answers to their questions about the world around them.
Grace, a retired college professor, said she was surprised to learn Devon had chosen to grant this year’s prize to King Elementary. She said she hadn’t gotten any kind of confirmation from Devon so she didn’t expect Tuesday’s announcement, even when company representatives arrived in the gym.
“Now it’s time to cash the check and get busy,” Grace said.