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Fuel Your Car, Fuel Your School

For the 95% of American households that own a car, nothing is more routine than getting gas. Once or twice a week we all pull up to the pump, pop the gas cap, watch the needle move up to full, and drive off.
But the story doesn’t end there. This October, Chevron will donate $1 to DonorsChoose.org projects for every 8 gallon fill-up in eligible cities, up to $5.9 million. That money will join the over $30,000,000 raised so far since the Fuel Your School program launched in 2010.
Those fill-ups have supported over 3.6 million students and 23,000 teachers at 5,200 schools. Every single one of these projects has changed lives. To give you a taste of the impact so far, we’ve picked out three projects that show what filling up your car can do for students and teachers.
Cars and Computers
Mr. Traversi teaches Middle School STEM to a group of students that he believes “have the drive and the skill to go on to high school and take the most challenging classes available.” To prepare them for that next step and beyond, he uses fun, hands-on experiments, like this friction track. Students can adjust the friction between the “car” and the track, and the data is automatically captured by the computer. This mirrors the work of professional scientists, giving students an insight into how this work is done outside of the classroom.
“Exciting professional opportunities await any/all students willing to embrace the challenges STEM presents.” – Mr. Traversi
As a 29+ year veteran teacher, it takes a lot for Mr. Traversi to be really impressed by a new classroom experiment, but this was an exception. “Very seldom does something come along to allow kids to see things in a whole new light — when it does you keep it in your arsenal as a most treasured weapon in the fight against student learning angst.”
Makerspace Madness
When Ms. Neidhardt set out to provide “a place to learn and think and grow” for her Alabama 2nd graders, she knew where to start: build a Makerspace. These spaces are popping up in classrooms across the US and give students a place to build, tinker, and create. Ms. Neidhardt agrees with the philosophy behind this movement, that “children can create and build anything given the material, time, and space.”
“Educators are preparing students for a world of technology that doesn’t even exist yet.” – Ms. Neidhardt
A few weeks after the boxes arrived, Ms. Neidhardt could already see a change in her students, noting “increased interest and confidence In STEM projects and collaboration.” Her students are solving “relevant, real-world engineering challenges,” skills that will serve them through school and when they enter the workforce. Ms. Neidhardt hopes to expand the Makerspace in the future to serve the entire school, giving even more students the chance to discover their love of STEM.
Alaska Butterfly Garden
There are nearly 80 species of butterflies native to Alaska. Now, thanks to the Fuel Your School program, an entire Anchorage elementary school is full of budding Lepidopterists. Ms. Graham oversees a butterfly garden in her school’s library, and needed supplies to keep the “living experiment” going through the long Alaska winter. The garden is positioned near windows in the center of the school, so students can always check what’s going on as they walk the hallways.
“Having a living experiment in the middle of the school for all to see will generate questions, excitement and a curiosity for the natural world.” – Ms. Graham
Teachers at all grade levels are using the projects, with Kindergarteners simply “counting the butterflies they see” while older students are “adopting larvae to observe,” learning biology in a way that mirrors the work of adult scientists.

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