Tech Grad Is A Finalist For $100,000 Grant

Tech Grad Is A Finalist For $100,000 Grant

Online Voting Will Determine The Five National Winners


SOCORRO, N.M. – New Mexico Tech graduate Tommie McSherry has a chance to win $100,000 for her middle school science lab. She was recently chosen as a finalist for a national contest Northrop Grumman Foundation.

McSherry is the science teacher at Cottonwood Valley Charter School. Last spring, she and her students put together a video application for a Northrop Grumman Foundation Fab School Labs contest aimed at promoting STEM education. 


Tommie McSherry coaching students during Science Olympiad practice after school last week. McSherry is an NMT grad and a teacher at Cottonwood Valley Charter School.



Last month, Cottonwood Valley Charter School was been named one of 25 school semifinalists in the nationwide contest. The contest will be decided by Facebook voting. The five top vote-getting schools will win. Anyone can participate by voting -- go to www.facebook.com/fabschoollabs, then click on "Voting" on the left. Or click this link: http://bit.ly/2gNtQYG 

Online voting is simple: just click the “like” button next to CVCS’s video submission on Tuesday, Dec. 6. Votes received by each school on its day during the online voting campaign will be considered along with other criteria to evaluate and determine the winning grant recipients. Online voting will be a critical factor in the Foundation’s decision on the final five grant winners.

The public middle school lab makeover contest provides administrators and teachers with an opportunity to make their dreams of a state-of-the-art STEM lab a reality for their students thanks to five available grants of up to $100,000 each to be awarded by the Northrop Grumman Foundation to the contest winners. 

You can watch the CVCS video application at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gi6SSkzEiLs&feature=youtu.be

McSherry earned her bachelor’s in biology with a minor in chemistry at New Mexico Tech. she also earned a master’s in biology. Once finishing her degrees, she decided that Socorro is a great place for her to raise her children, so she entered the teaching profession.

When she joined the CVCS teaching staff, the school was planning a major renovation, which was completed last year. However, the project did not include laboratory equipment.  If CVCS wins this grant, she will have the financial resources to purchase instruments like pH probes, temperature and pressure sensors, high-precision electric balances and other items.


Tommie McSherry shares a laugh with students during Science Olympiad practice last week.


Inadequate funds to purchase equipment and an overall lack of facilities are frequently cited problems by teachers and educators as it relates to science and mathematics education at the elementary and middle school level, according to the National Science Board and other education sources. Lack of funding and inadequate laboratory facilities are challenges faced by Cottonwood Valley Charter School as well, preventing the staff and community volunteers from adequately teaching, motivating and inspiring its middle-schoolers in the various STEM disciplines. Winning a grant of $100,000 will help CVCS finish transforming its science classroom into a 21st century STEM lab, a place of imagination and opportunity for students, while also helping them better meet the demands of today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world.

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Tommie McSherry and her students gaze skyward after launching a rocket after school.


With the help of the community and a grant from the Lowe’s Charitable Foundation, CVCS has installed the first phase of its STEM classroom project – two student laboratory sink counter units. The next phases call for a teacher demonstration counter unit, additional storage for equipment and supplies, student lab tables and stools, student laptop computers, classroom smart technology, digital instrumentation to support student research projects, software, and more. Funding statewide to support public K-12 education has been cut back because of declining state oil and gas revenue, so public schools like Cottonwood Valley Charter School have had to find other ways to fund projects. The Fab School Lab grant will make a 21st century STEM program a reality for CVCS students.

Additional information about Fab School Labs can be found by visiting www.fabschoollabs.com.

Nearly 200 schools participated in the contest submitting videos, photos and sharing their school’s vision and need for a state-of-the-art science lab. The contest, which was announced earlier this year during one of National Science Teacher’s Association’s five annual conferences, invited teachers, principals and school administrators to tell their school’s story through video, photos, and a brief essay. The top 25 semifinalist schools were chosen based on a scoring system that included existing classroom/lab resources, level of need, students impacted, feasibility of upgrades and plans proposed, and meeting the contest eligibility requirements and entry criteria. Socorro’s Cottonwood Valley Charter School is the only New Mexico school in the semi-finalist group.

-- NMT --