Calvin Donaldson students enjoy new playground and science lab - WSMV Channel 4

Calvin Donaldson students enjoy new playground and science lab

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-  With a gift of $100,000 from the Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children and a match of $50,000 gift from the Benwood Foundation, Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy has done an extreme makeover of the school's playground and science lab into places for hands-on STEM learning.

Instead of a barren playground with rusty equipment and no green spaces, the outdoor space at Calvin Donaldson has been transformed to include new playground equipment, with revamped landscaping, a walking track, a musical space, and an outdoor art space.  The science lab has been renovated into a fully operational lab furnished with the most up-to-date science equipment including microscopes, micro-projectors, on-the-go science kits, and new lab furniture. Both the outdoor area and science lab were designed to seamlessly connect to the school's environmental science curriculum.

With the arrival of spring, students are more than ready to try out their vastly improved play area, after years of neglect and disrepair.  Student Jamilia Macon said, "The old playground had rusty equipment and a lot of rough places on the ground.  This is more fun for us and a lot safer."

The Hamilton County Department of Education and the Public Education Foundation worked together to coordinate the inside-outside makeover.  They put the money to good use inside the school, refurbishing the outdated science lab.  Officials say the school is committed to the STEM program, stressing science, technology, engineering and math

"We wanted our outdoor area and the science lab to inspire our students," said principal Becky Coleman. "The playground and nature area is a shared space with the intent to bring students and community members together around a school of excellence." 

"Leonore Annenberg was committed to improving the lives of children, particularly those living in poverty," says Public Education Foundation president Dan Challener. "This grant certainly underscores the heart of her mission to provide students resources to help them shine brightly.  We are thrilled to see this and Benwood's investment launch two new facilities to encourage hands-on environmental science learning for students."

In the past three years, the Leonore Annenberg School Fund for Children has given over $400,000 to support elementary schools in Chattanooga, including a new visual and multimedia art studio at Hardy, a multimedia library center at Rivermont, and a technology center at Clifton Hills.

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