We're pleased to introduce the winners of the 2019 Envision Your Classroom Contest! Each winner will receive a $1000 grant to take their vision for creating a hands-on classroom experience to life. From STEM to interpersonal skills, these five teachers are innovators who are moving and shaking in the education world. Thanks to all the inspired teachers who entered our contest and to all those who cast their votes to determine the final winners. Read the winning proposals below, and stay tuned for fascinating updates as these teachers begin their journey with their students to infuse more hands-on learning into their schools and communities.
Susan Brown from Meadow School, NC
Build, Code, & Discover
Imagine building and programming your own robot dog to protect your school locker. The Hummingbird Robotics kits will allow kids to do just that and offer a problem solving environment where the sky is the limit. Students choose their own robotic design based on a problem or need within their world. Using their creativity, their innovation and recycled material the students will design, build and program a robot that accomplishes their goals. The Hummingbird is a creative kit comprised of lights, motors, and sensors. The variety of sensors and motors which allow students to build a robot out of ordinary craft/recycled materials. This kit will offer real world programming using Scratch or Snap coding.
Rubrics and STEAM planning sheets will guide the students to achieve different levels of success. Students of varied academic abilities can achieve success following the rubrics and also allow advanced students to achieve their maximum abilities by using more complicated programming and materials. For example, a student may choose to build a robot dog to protect their locker at school. This robot could be built as a basic cardboard dog with light sensors that allow the dog to detect when the locker door is open. The locker door would open and in return, the dog would bark. This project would include easy programming/coding and basic robot sensor and board. The advanced student could add motors to make the dog move forward as well as LED lights and another motor to make his tail wag. This kit and class rubric would allow for success and differentiation based on the child’s ability. Let the creating begin.
Adrema Higgins from Sam Houston Elementary, TN
Neon Remix STEM Mobile Lab-STEMtasktic Adventure
The need for fully integrated K-12 STEM education has never been more critical. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is the fifth fastest growing occupational cluster in the South and the seventh largest career base with a projected employment rate of 2.6 million workers by 2020. In order to prepare our students to take advantage of the vast opportunities that are ahead of them, we must equip ALL learners with the knowledge and skills needed to embark on a STEM pathway and ultimately secure future high-demand STEM-related careers.
Currently, our school district, the Lebanon Special School District, is working to establish a STEM Mobile Lab in Lebanon, Tennessee. The NEON Remix Bus, our system’s second Mobile Cafe and Classroom, is utilized by our Family Resource Center and Child Nutrition Program to host a summer feeding program to anyone 18 and under, reducing food insecurity. Throughout the school year, we will use the NEON Remix as a Mobile STEM Lab.
Goals of our Project:
Our goal for this project is to introduce problems that can be solved in children’s literature utilizing the engineering design process by revisiting some familiar fairy tales. My school district would be able to purchase fairy tale STEM kits that can be housed on the Neon Remix STEM Mobile Lab, and can be used throughout our school district in grades PK-5th grade.
Our learning outcomes for future success include: By May of 2021, LSSD Science 3-5th grade test scores will increase by 2% as compared to those of May 2020.
Our innovative STEM-tasktic Adventure Proposal is inclusive of our community as they help us set and achieve high standards for our students by utilizing our NEON Remix in a creative way that motivates our students to enjoy hands on STEM teaching and learning thus providing viable future employees and leaders.
Rachel Matthews from USC Hybrid High College Prep, CA
Adventures in Apothecary
In this project, students will blend knowledge of science and business to become scientist-entrepreneurs by creating and “selling” a product for our high school’s first ever Apothecary Fair. In groups, students will be selecting a good -- which could include anything from cleaning products, to make-up, to chemically created bread -- to make, sell, and analyze using their knowledge of chemistry and the scientific method. In order to make their product, students will be exposed to the chemistry of cooking and creating home goods. They will analyze the historical and scientific significance of their procedures.
In order to sell their product, students will design a personal brand and customer outreach program for Hybrid High’s first Apothecary Fair. At the fair, students will be required to showcase their product and their advertisements by creating a stand or booth for their specific good. Students will have to discover marketing and sales techniques as well as develop business plans. This will give the students the experience of real-life business ownership. Students will have the opportunity to explore cost-benefit analyses of their product, set prices, and compare their prices with what fair-goers would be willing to pay in a real-life scenario. Through the apothecary project, students will test-drive potential careers in fields like scientific research, consumer testing and psychology, marketing and advertising, construction, and small business ownership. Students will refine their mastery of the scientific method and research, and explore the entirely new fields on entrepreneurship, marketing psychology, construction, and sales.
With this grant, students will be able to go on a field trip to visit modern apothecaries and farmers’ markets to both shadow small business owners and garner inspiration. The grant will also allow students to receive funding for their projects and brand development to ultimately create a more scientifically sound and well-advertised product.
Team Tabernacle from Tabernacle Elementary School, NJ
Fun & Function
Project Fun and Function will focus on developing a connected indoor/outdoor space that promotes mindfulness, wellness & natural sensory exploration. Our teachers integrate mindfulness in the classroom. Project Fun and Function is designed to enhance our current program for grades PreK-4. This will be a collaborative project which will involve key stakeholders such as the district’s Green Team members, district staff members, students, parents, and community members. Although each group will be taking an active role in different aspects of the project, the students’ ideas will drive the project. Sensory exploration is a way of examining and discovering. It stimulates a child’s development and respects individual learning styles. Funding for this project will allow for the creation of a sensory wall, which will be designed by the students and incorporated into iSTEAM themes. Research shows that multi-sensory environments improve the development of thought, intelligence and social skills. All of which are qualities needed to succeed in life. A sensory wall will offer our students with cognitive impairments and other challenging conditions the opportunity to enjoy and control a variety of sensory experiences. All students in grades PreK-4 will benefit from this project, especially the special education child who sometimes unjustly acquires the reputation of being unmanageable. Also, children with ADHD, suffered trauma or are on the autistic spectrum benefited from a mindfulness-based program, which included a sensory wall. Furthermore, a multi-sensory environment will empower all our students to access and be part of the world around them. Skills used to awaken their senses will serve as an important tool to help them succeed in life and career choices by decreasing stress and increasing creativity.
Brandon Warden from Pass Christian Middle School, MS
Lighting to Learn
Students experience extreme robotic lighting at concerts as well as music videos. Lighting determines how we drive, when we cross a street, proceed with caution, pull over for emergency vehicles, that a movie is starting, etc. Think if we could use lighting in the classroom to help deliver, guide, and inspire instruction. This idea is completely unique. I am hoping to lead the way with this project and inspire others as we continue to guide our students on their career paths. Students will become lighting designers of their preferred song of choice and have an opportunity to present this original piece to their peers in the STEM classroom. This innovative initiative will allow students to become lighting designers as well as engineers. Students will program robotic lighting instruments while creating and designing an original light show.
Obtaining the grant will fund this innovative teaching project and provide the materials to turn this dream into reality. This project requires the following items to put the plan into action: 3 robotic lights, data cables, and a data controller. The robotic lights will focus on designated areas in the classroom. This project will immediately serve 174 8th grade students at Pass Christian Middle School. Pass Christian Middle School is a low-income/high poverty school and the students face challenges both in and out of the classroom. In the STEM program, I am looking forward to instructing my students through exciting and cutting-edge techniques that keep them engaged in the learning process while holding them to clearly defined high expectations, thus enabling them to achieve as lifelong learners, future problem solvers and leaders of tomorrow. Lighting to Learn is not consumable. I plan to add to this project as time goes on to meet the needs of my students.