Several schools in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes were awarded grants to start using a new, hands-on curriculum for STEM classes this school year.

Ellender, Terrebonne and South Terrebonne high schools in Terrebonne and C. M. Washington Elementary School in Lafourche received the money from the John Deere Foundation and Chevron through the nonprofit Project Lead the Way.

At C. M. Washington, Principal Gina Johnson said school officials applied for the grant last year, and she "felt great" when she learned of the award for science, technology, engineering and math.

"I was excited," she said. "And I'll be even more excited once our materials come in and we can start implementing it along with our science curriculum and see how engaged the students are."

At her elementary school, the curriculum will be used in the fourth grade science classroom as well as at the Nicholls Magnet School, where some of the school's more advanced students are attending this year.

The classroom will have a set of Chromebooks so the students can walk through the modules with the teachers. They'll also take part in science, technology, engineering and math related projects such as robotics.

Mary Arrasmith, Project Lead the Way director of school engagement, said each school received between $10,000 and $35,000 to train their teachers to use the curriculum as well as purchase the equipment and supplies required for the instruction programs.

In the high schools, the curriculum will come into play in their engineering courses.

"We are very fortunate to team up with such amazing industry partners who champion STEM in their school communities," said Arrasmith. "It's really helping to transform the learning experience and provide true career readiness skills at every grade."

Staff Writer Halle Parker can be reached at or 857-2204. Follow her on Twitter, @_thehalparker.