How does a raisin react when dropped in various liquids? Will it sink, float or fizzle?

Those are some of the questions kindergartners will explore at Blackman Elementary School after they return from winter break thanks to a new innovation minigrant the school has been awarded through Nissan North America and the Rutherford County Business Education Partnership.

Blackman teachers Ashley Thomas, Katrina Butler and Kim Marable are three of 64 Rutherford County and Murfreesboro City school teachers who received the grants on Tuesday, Dec. 6, during an awards breakfast held at the Stones River Country Club in Murfreesboro.

The BEP Nissan Minigrant awards are given to teachers in Rutherford County and Murfreesboro who successfully demonstrate an idea for an innovative classroom program that impacts students.

Nissan contributes the funding to offer the minigrant awards, in addition to several other programs throughout the year for educators and students, BEP Director Amelia Bozeman said.

“Nissan has played such a crucial role for our students,” Bozeman said.

Randy Knight, vice president for manufacturing for Nissan North America, thanked teachers for looking for ways to engage students and promote lifelong learning. Knight has a special connection to education in Rutherford County because his wife was a school teacher for 30 years. In addition, he is a lifelong resident who was raised, educated and employed within the county, he said.

“I didn’t have to go anywhere to find God’s country,” Knight said he tells people.

At Blackman, the grant will fund a program the teachers call “Stemtastic Fridays.” STEM is an acronym for education programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Parents will be invited to work with their children to complete weekly experiments and activities that are designed to ignite student interest in STEM programs.

“It’s a learning experience but we’re trying to make it fun,” said Marable, who is an instructional coach at Blackman Elementary. ”Normally with kindergartners, they can’t handle as much but that’s why we want to start early.”

In addition to the raisin experiments, students will also complete activities using Lego bricks to design towers and learn the process of journaling about their processes and projects, Marable added.

To see the teachers with Rutherford County Schools that received minigrants for the 2017 spring semester click HERE