Olney Friends School is pleased to announce the successful completion of a fund drive in the sciences that raised $15,536 in matching funds to supplement a $14,400 grant in from the Margaret Hall Foundation for curriculum development, teacher development, and laboratory development in environmental physics.

Forty-five households contributed to the fund drive, said Heather Best, director of development. Those who contributed include alumni, parents, trustees, staff, and friends of the school. This exciting enhancement to Olneys science program would not have been possible without the remarkable and heart-warming support shown by these individuals for Olney Friends School, she said.

In addition, a grant of $1,290 from the Appalachian Foundation for Ohio will be used in support of the matching fund. The grant from the Appalachian Foundation of Ohio also supports the purchase of laboratory equipment in physics, said Best.

Together, the two grants and the funds raised from donors to the school have made possible the purchase of modern electronic lab ware including the Vernier LabQuest interface, a handheld device that can be used standalone, with a computer, or in the field. It allows students to quantify their environment through the use of modern digital equipment; its capabilities include built-in graphing and analysis software. It is a digital interface between the student, the computer, and the environment.

The grant also supports the purchase of physics packages designed to work with the LabQuest interface, including motion detector, range-force sensor, microphone, differential voltage probe, accelerometer, light sensor, pulley attachment, temperature probe, and magnetic field sensor. The purchase of further laboratory materials is also supported through this project.

Olney Friends School is a regional and national leader in environmental science education, said head of school Charlie Szumilas. This new project supports the development of an innovative curriculum that integrates environmental science into the teaching of high school physics, he added.

In 2012-2013, Olney Friends School added a new, post-calculus physics course. In addition to courses in biology, chemistry, and environmental science, the school presently offers three physics courses: a 10th grade course in conceptual physics, and two different AP Physics courses, one focused on mechanics (with a precalculus prerequisite) and the other focused on electricity and magnetism (with a calculus prerequisite).

In 2009, Olney Friends School biology and environmental science teacher Leonard Guindon was named the Ohio Conservation Teacher of the Year in the high school category.

Students use the 350-acre campus as a learning classroom. They work directly with Belmont Soil and Water Authority to protect and monitor the health of Captina Creek Watershed, said Szumilas.

The Margaret Hall Foundation encourages innovative programs in secondary education through grants to non-profit secondary schools. Located in Lexington, Kentucky, the foundation makes grants for developing innovative educational programs, faculty development, purchasing teaching materials and equipment, publishing educational information, and sponsoring educational conferences and seminars in which both students and faculty actively participate.

The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio is a regional community foundation and 501 (c)3 public charity serving the 32 counties of Appalachian Ohio.

Olney Friends School, located in Barnesville, Ohio, enrolls 50-60 boarding and day students in grades 9-12 from around the state, around the country, and around the world. The academic program blends a vigorous college preparatory curriculum focused on the humanities, the arts, and the sciences with opportunities for hands-on environmental stewardship caring for the land, the farm, and the regions natural resources.