The Light Project

The Light Project

The Light Project – an acronym for literacy, inquiry, getting outside, having fun, and time spent with family. The program aims to get Darke County first graders interested in science and exploring the environments around them. The Light Project was created by Angela McMurry and is a program that is funded and supported by The Light Foundation. Our non-profit supports this program because it goes hand in hand with our mission of utilizing outdoor activities to teach values of responsibility, accountability, and hard work to the youth.

The first aspect of The Light Project is a reading assignment. First graders in the Darke County school system, where Matt Light grew up, bring home books provided by the program to read with their families. Once finished, the families partake in a nature-related activity and each student completes a journal entry and survey questions that are then returned to the teacher in exchange for a new book. For every five books the student completes they earn a prize. The grand prize for completing 50 books and activities is a fun evening at Chenoweth Trails that will include a cookout, hiking, gaga ball, rock balancing, smores, and more!

The second part of The Light Project is a “Family Fun Adventure Day.” The optional monthly event invites students and their families to come to Chenoweth Trails for bonding and a nature-filled day. Each month, there is a specific theme that relates to the books the children are reading and the activities that they complete.

The Light Foundation gathers sponsors every year, so they can support the program. Each classroom is supplied with 72 books at no cost to any of the schools or families. In addition, each student receives a journal, ruler, tweezers, magnifying glass, and an activity bag to hold all their Light Project necessities in order to complete the nature-related activities. When the program first began in 2014-15 there were 85 students. It has grown to expect around 550 students each year with having eight Dark County Schools included. The schools include Ansonia, Versailles, Tri-Village, Franklin Monroe, Decolores Montessori, Arcanum, Greenville, and Mississinawa Valley.

The idea is that when children are immersed in nature, the experience can inspire creativity, provide a blank slate for fantasy, offer a healing place, help them to gain confidence, provide freedom, and privacy for reflection. For families, nature discovery provides an opportunity to reconnect with each other and disconnect with the stresses of technology around them. The activities and journal writing encourage critical thinking, encourage real-world connections to classroom standards through use of science tools and challenge students to be change agents within their school buildings and communities.

The Light Project also offers an open door of opportunity for the Greenville City Schools Careers with Children program. They are able to come out to volunteer by leading the activities during the kick-off programs. This helps the high school students prepare and gain experience for their future of working with children.

This program won a “Friend of Science” award from the Science Education Council of Ohio.

This would not be possible without the help of grants and donations from DP&L Foundation, The Fred & Alice Wallace Charitable Memorial Foundation, American Legion Post 140, Kiwanis International, SEW Eurodrive, Moose Lodge #329, Greenville Knights of Columbus, and Hooked on Fishing-Not on Drugs of Wayne Lakes, Ohio.

We are more than excited to meet the first graders for the 2019-20 school year!