EAST PALESTINE Teacher-pupil proposal wins a grant for outdoor science lab

The school received one of 100 grants awarded nationwide.
EAST PALESTINE -- A $1,000 grant to East Palestine Elementary will help fund an outdoor science lab at the school.
Laura Allison, a fifth-grader, and Jean Metzger, teacher of gifted pupils, wrote a grant proposal explaining the elementary gifted pupils' plan for the science lab and how it would benefit the school and the community.
Youth Serve America chose their submission from among nearly 900 entries submitted nationwide. They were among 100 winners chosen from across the country.
The grants are State Farm Good Neighbor Service-Learning awards designed to help pupils foster ideas that will benefit their school and community, Metzger said.
Metzger said the winners were picked based on the submitted projects' benefit to the community and integration of learning. She said the grant requires that some portion of the project take place on National Youth Service Days on April 16-18.
Laura said she and her classmates are inviting Gov. Bob Taft to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Laura's uncle, John Allison, is Taft's chief of staff.
Project SEEDS
Development of the outdoor science learning lab is a year-long project called Project SEEDS, for Students Educating, Exploring and Discovering Science.
Laura said she and her classmates are working on designs for the lab and will make a presentation to horticulture students at Columbiana County Career and Technical Center. The horticulture students will help them decide what types of plants would grow well in the area.
Plans are for the science lab to include a butterfly garden, a table made with mosaic tiles the pupils will design, and a brick path. To help fund the science lab, the pupils are selling engraved bricks.
Laura said the pupils would also like to include a fish pond, bird feeders and a bird bath.
The pupils want to work with art students at Youngstown State University to create a central area that will include a sculpture. The pupils are also planning a design contest for a mural to be painted on one wall, she said.
The science lab will be a benefit to the school and community and go hand-in-hand with a new science club at the elementary, Laura said.
Metzger's gifted pupils are also working on a fund-raiser, selling bags of stretchy, gooey, polymer, known to the pupils as "Flubber" -- from the Disney movies -- for 50 cents a bag. Mixing and packaging the neon-colored stuff to fill nearly 700 orders has consumed much of the pupils' time in recent weeks, Metzger said.
Laura said there is a lot to do to prepare the outdoor lab area, including pulling weeds. One weed was as tall as she is, she said.
The pupils plan to work on the lab whenever weather permits. The principal and teachers have been cooperative, allowing the gifted pupils to work on the project during recess or other free periods, Laura said.
The pupils chose the outdoor science lab as a project because they wanted to do something to help elementary pupils improve proficiency test scores in science, she added.
Metzger said on the most recent proficiency tests, 53 percent of third-graders, 57 percent of fourth-graders and 70 percent of fifth-graders passed the science portion of the test.
Laura lives in East Palestine with her parents, Brad and Susan, her sister, Melissa, and brother, Greg. She attends East Palestine United Methodist Church, where she has been involved in a number of community service projects.