Be the catalyst for innovation!
SPC Foundation’s Innovation Grants Initiative was launched in 2011 to support the college’s efforts to improve student success. The initiative provides the financial resources needed to bring to life the creative ideas of SPC faculty, staff and students. These projects broaden the scope of the curriculum, deepen the college experience and advance student achievement. The Foundation has awarded close to $400,000 since the inception of the initiative. The Innovation Grant winners are carefully selected by a committee comprised of SPC and community representatives.
Funded by the SPC Foundation’s generous donors the possibilities for innovation and achievement are endless!
Experiential Learning Outside the Classroom
SPC Assistant Professor Dr. Monica Lara uses funding from Innovation Grants to provide her biology students with research opportunities outside of the classroom. This type of learning will prepare students for future jobs in laboratories, consulting companies, state and federal agencies, local parks, museums and teaching environments. Most recently, Dr. Lara’s students have been using small sampling devices to study shallow mangrove-lined and seagrass environments.
SPC’s biology department is one of the few local undergraduate programs that is providing research opportunities which require students to build marketable skills such as critical thinking, collecting and recording data, problem solving, maintaining scientific equipment and designing research protocols. These Innovation Grant funded projects allow students to study our local marine ecosystems while building practical skills that will prepare them for the workplace or graduate studies.
Pictured: (left) SPC Professor Dr. Monica Lara leading students through Lionfish dissection; (right) Sample taken from light traps placed above an artificial reef in the Gulf of Mexico
The Foundation’s Innovation Grants Initiative has helped faculty members like Chad Mairn develop programs that engage students in new and meaningful ways. This year, Professor Mairn received a grant to underwrite the cost of equipment that utilizes holographs, 3D graphs and virtual reality to enhance student learning. This is Mr. Mairn’s fourth Innovation Grant, each of which has helped build his highly popular Innovation Lab on Seminole Campus. Often referred to as a “technology playground,” the Lab attracts people of all ages from across Pinellas County who have an interest in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. It’s an oasis where both the curious and the experienced meet to share, learn and collaborate. The Lab also holds regular workshops and events like Makers Boot Camp which encourage experimentation and discovery.
Pictured: SPC Professor Chad Mairn demonstrates Virtual Reality technology