LAPSF Awards Microscopes to Aspen Teacher Through ‘Great Ideas Grant’ Program

Aspen Elementary School 5th grade students work with microscopes, from left, Hannah Mullen, Victor Popa-Simil, teacher Stacy Martens, Isabel Montoya and Aedin Miller. Courtesy/LAPSF


As part of its “Great Ideas Grant” program, the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation awarded a grant for microscopes to Aspen Elementary School teacher Stacy Martens.

In her grant application last fall, Martens wrote, “The purpose of this grant is to allow 5th grade students at Aspen Elementary the opportunity to study cells in science. Part of the 5th grade curriculum and standards focuses on biology and cells. Students study plant and animal cells. I teach all three fifth grade classes the science curriculum, but I do not have any microscopes to aid in my teaching. For the past two years, I have borrowed an old microscope from 6th grade for this unit. This one microscope is not sufficient for the students to really look at and study the cells. They have to take turns looking and then remember what they have seen due to the fact that often times they have to draw what they observed.”

The Foundation located five microscopes, owned by Los Alamos Public Schools, that Los alamos High School’s Science Department was willing to give and had them cleaned and tuned for Martens. 

In addition to the refurbished microscopes, Martens also was awarded $200 to purchase a wide variety of specimen slides. 

When asked for comment about the award from the Foundation, Martens said, “We now have five stations through which students can rotate and really have time to see and work with the slides. I also have to say how happy it made me that instead of giving me the grant money I had requested to purchase microscopes, the Foundation was fiscally responsible in seeking out the equipment that the district already owned. This goes above and beyond, I am sure it was a lot more work to find them, have them cleaned and collected, and ready for pick up instead of simply granting the money. It makes me feel very good to be donating to an organization that is thoughtful and responsible with their funding. Not only did the equipment move from a status of excess to in-use, but I was given more microscopes than I could have purchased with the grant money I had requested. With five microscopes, my students will now have more exposure than I had imagined.” 

The Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization founded to leverage time, talent and funds to promote innovative learning in the local schools. 

Its Great Ideas Grant Program provides support to teachers who have ideas for enriching the curriculum or providing students with unique learning experiences.  

The program enables the purchase of special materials or resources for the classroom, which are not typically available through the schools’ budgets.

The LAPS Foundation accepts donations ear-marked for Great Ideas Grants throughout the year. Donations can be made at or mailed to 1900 Diamond Dr., Ste.1, Los Alamos, NM 87544.




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