A Mason County High School teacher was recently awarded one of 100 Voya Financial $2,000 Unsung Heroes grants.
Josh Underwood has been a teacher for 19 years and has taught at MCHS for five years. He currently teaches physics, advanced placement physics, two sections of freshman science and three levels of aviation curriculum.
The money will be used to help with lessons in his physics class.
“My idea was centered around exploring sound,” he said. “We’ll start the unit by watching Blue Man Group, because they’re kind of known for using different pieces in their music to make different musical notes. The students will be playing music on PVC that they’ve cut and calculated. The money will be used for PVC, PVC cutters and toward sound sensors that they’ll use to measure the frequency of the sounds they produce.”
Underwood said the grant is designed to assist teachers with creative lessons.
“This program is designed to give teachers a chance to put together some unique lessons — a little more than the run-of-the-mill lessons,” he said. “I’ve had some things I’ve wanted to do over the years and didn’t have the funding.”
According to Underwood, he was pleased to find out he had received the grant.
“I was ecstatic,” he said. “Anytime you can get extra help, it’s always a good thing. It was a good feeling. I’m really appreciative of Voya offering this. Times are tight; budgets are tight, so to see a company willing to invest in the students is worth a lot.”
According to Laura Maulucci, with Voya Financial, Underwood was chosen because of his unique idea.
“Underwood’s innovative teaching idea, “Making Music With Science,” focuses on teaching students about the science of waves and sound through the creation of musical instruments. Students involved in the project will construct their own pipe instruments, which will use sound sensors to gather data and analyze sounds from the pipes,” she said. “The incorporation of music is not new to physics, but what makes this project unique is providing the students with a choice in songs to then create instruments to fit accordingly. Underwood believes the real learning will take place in the building of the instruments.”
Maulucci said Underwood is also now a finalist for one of Voya’s additional grants.
“Selected from a group of more than 1,200 applicants, Underwood is one of only 100 winners across the country who will receive this award to help fund and bring his program to life,” she said. “In addition, he will now compete with other finalists for one of the top three prizes — an additional $5,000, $10,000 or $25,000 from Voya Financial.”