Pratt science students will soon have access to high-tech research tools, thanks to science teacher Lu Bitter, one of 35 teachers in the nation awarded a grant from the Society for Science and the Public.

Pratt science teacher Lu Bitter has kept a secret for 10-and-a-half weeks, but she can finally share the news that USD 382 has received a $5,000 science research grant from the Society for Science and the Public that will be used to purchase equipment for her classroom.
“This is really a gift,” Bitter said. “Every year I have kids doing science projects and there will be some that want to focus on the river. This year we had a student studying how water going into and out of the sewage dump affects the river water. There were changes, but we didn’t have sophisticated enough equipment.”
In past years, Bitter and her science students have used test strips to measure things like nitrates, chlorine and minerals in the water. But the ranges of values has been quite wide. With the new equipment she plans to order with the grant money, such tests will have much more precise results.
“The money is supposed to come in this week,” Bitter said. “I chose to order two machines. One will electronically test the chemicals we find in our lakes and ponds. The other will test groundwater and soil for things like phosphorus and potassium, chemicals and minerals that affect crops and crop production in the area.”
Bitter and USD 382 are one of 35 schools selected to receive monetary fund grants, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. Bitter said there were several factors that helped Pratt get the highest funding package.
“We had a student qualify for the international science contest last year and that put our school into a pool of candidates for the higher amounts. They were specifically looking for schools that had top quality science fair entries,” she said.
Preference was also given to teachers in schools that serve low-income areas or underrepresented students. Pratt’s population is 42 percent low income with many families in the school system living under the poverty level. This also helped boost Bitter’s grant application into the upper-tier of funding.
“I am thrilled to announce our funding,” Bitter said. “There will be so many opportunities for our students to do what has previously been out of our reach. This grant will provide the means to obtain equipment to explore more advanced STEM topics and work with industries and universities on research projects.”
The Society for Science & the Public announced that grants totaling $120,000 were awarded to 35 middle and high school science teachers in 23 states across the country to support STEM research activities in their classrooms.
Society for Science & the Public is dedicated to the achievement of young scientists in independent research and to public engagement in science. Established in 1921, the Society is a nonprofit whose vision is to promote the understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in human advancement. Through its world-class competitions, including the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and the Broadcom MASTERS, and its award-winning magazines, Science News and Science News for Students, Society for Science & the Public is committed to inform, educate, and inspire.