Chattanooga Students Named Finalists for $400,000 TVA Grant to Boost School Energy Efficiency
Posted on 12/19/2023
Chattanooga Students Named Finalists for $400,000 TVA Grant to Boost School Energy Efficiency

Chattanooga, Tenn. - Five students from the Chattanooga School for the Arts and Science (CSAS) have been shortlisted for a $400,000 grant from Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to improve the energy efficiency of their school building.

Karen Lin, Aarav Patel, Hetvi Patel, Rithvik Siddenki, and Sullivan Smith, with the assistance of two dedicated teachers, Kelly Davis and Jennifer Mitchell, are applying for two TVA grants to improve their school efficiency. The team is the only finalist application that allowed students to participate in the grant process and research proposal. 

“We wouldn’t have gotten this far without our students,” said Jennifer Mitchell, CSAS eLab Specialist. “This grant would do a lot for our school and our kids, and I am proud these seniors stepped up to help. They have taken the lead in researching, reaching out to people, and writing the grant. We are here for guidance and support, but they have done much of the work.”

On December 19, 2023, CSAS held a school-wide "Energy Day" organized by Karen, Aarav, Hetvi, Rithvik, and Sullivan. The event aimed to teach K-12 students about energy consumption and conservation and concluded with all classes answering the question, "How would you spend $10,000 to improve energy efficiency at CSAS?" This day was a learning opportunity and a way to earn extra points in the TVA grant application.

Karen, Aarav, Hetvi, Rithvik, and Sullivan compiled lessons for students across grade bands and then provided CSAS teachers with an instructional guide. “It took us months to plan lessons for Energy Day. This process has given me a new respect and appreciation for our teachers who do this every day,” said Aarav when asked about the process and challenges of planning such an event. Hetvi agreed, saying, “Thinking of ways to keep all the grades engaged and learning what teachers do is inspiring. Seeing the work they put in for us to get an education provides an even greater admiration for our teachers.” 

The students have faced real-world challenges in writing the grants, such as communication, time management, organization, and more. However, they have been grateful to see how many people in their community are willing to help.

“The kids have learned so much through this process,” said Kelly Davis, CSAS Teacher of the Gifted. “The head start they are getting in learning skills that they will use the rest of their lives is worth the work we are putting into the grant. Seeing people recognize their dedication and take them seriously through this process has been rewarding for me and them.”

This initiative has also helped the students to create connections for themselves and others. Rithvik said, "One of my favorite parts of the project has been exploring the real-world connections with partners and our community." 

The team mentioned that although this grant wouldn’t affect their time at CSAS, they are excited to potentially improve other students’ learning experiences at CSAS and across the district. Winning this grant would not only improve the CSAS facility but decrease the need for improvements, which could provide more funding for other schools needing improvements and repairs. 

The grant proposal includes several improvements, such as adding a film to windows (729 square feet of windows) to increase energy efficiency by blocking sun heat and providing additional insulation, updating and adding  A/C systems, changing out light fixtures to LED bulbs, and more. The students’ goal is that this grant can help launch partnerships and save money so that these resources can be used to open more doors for students with diversified learning interests.

Finally, the students hope Hamilton County as a whole can continue investing in energy conservation. “We want to be a city known for innovation and beauty, not pollution and overconsumption.” 

Tips for Energy Conservation

  • Unplugging cords such as chargers when not in use
  • Turning off lights when you leave a room
  • Changing light bulbs to LED

Activities for Energy Day

  • Energy House
  • CO2: How much Do You Spew?
  • Energy Pictionary
  • The Game of Energy Choices
  • Climate Change Graphs
  • Extraordinary Earth Project
  • The $10,000 Question