Innovative teachers earn extra credit from Irvine Public Schools Foundation
The recipients were recognized at a reception at TAPS Fish House & Brewery in Irvine. “It is such an honor to have the opportunity to take a glimpse into the imaginations of Irvine’s most innovative teachers,” says Neda Eaton, president & CEO of IPSF. “Helping to bring these ideas to life, and seeing the impact that they have on student learning, is truly rewarding. We are so thankful to our community and sponsors who help make these grants possible for our students.”
Each $20,000 grant supports one of IPSF’s main areas of focus: science and engineering; technology; health and counseling; arts; and music. According to an IPSF media release, he winning teachers and their areas of innovation include:
Archana Jain, Irvine High School
Extreme 3D Printing
Imagine if high school students could have the ability to visualize an idea, design it, and then be able to create working prototypes of their vision. Students at Irvine High have wanted to create parts for robots, prosthetic limbs for a competition, jewelry, gears, props for a video project, art pieces, and so much more. Such high resolution, extremely accurate creations could only be possible with a superior quality 3D printer. In order to enhance student’s educational experience and expand their capabilities with current curriculum, IPSF will award Irvine High with an EnvisionTEC Micro EDU package, valued at $20,000, thanks to a generous donation from EnvisionTEC, a global 3D printer manufacturer headquartered in Detroit with a production facility in Gardena. This educational tool will have widespread applications in Irvine High’s engineering classroom, as well as throughout the school. When students are able to create through project-based learning, they are more likely to see the benefits of their education and pursue careers in engineering or related fields, studies show.
Karen Whippo, Deerfield Elementary School
Increasing concentration and focus in primary classrooms by providing kinesthetic learning tables and seating to support action-based learning is the primary goal of the proposal. The use of movement will facilitate cognition, assist memory retention, support behavior goals and anchor learning while developing healthy bodies. As childhood obesity rises and physical activity decreases throughout the United States, it becomes increasingly critical to teach children that a healthy body supports a healthy mind. Research shows that physical education and exercise affect academic achievement in children. In this project, TK and Kindergarten students will choose from a variety of kinesthetic seating options that will improve gross motor skills, brain function, and behavior choices while students learn.
Cynthia Rothman, Cypress Village Elementary School
STEAMing Forward in Elementary Education
This project will turn an average, sterile classroom into a S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) lab. The space will be intentionally designed to build critical thinking, creativity and innovation. Students and teachers alike will take part in the engineering process of ideation, creation, testing and revising of projects. In addition, students will use this space as a deconstruction lab to investigate how current everyday objects work by taking them apart. The intention is to draw teachers and students into a space where they can be challenged to develop divergent thinking and develop problem-solving skills as extensions to their already existing mathematic, scientific, social and literacy instruction. This coincides with constructivist approach that children learn best by constructing their own learning through experiences. This lab will offer such hands-on learning by allowing students and teachers’ exposure to materials and tools otherwise uncommon in the classroom. With this lab, the school seeks to promote innovation, risk-taking, failing, and believing in our abilities to change the world through empathy, problem solving, collaborating, and divergent thinking.
Kim Kinnaird, Lauren Taylor, and Jennie Bolinger, Alderwood Elementary School
Explore, Challenge, Create, Imagine: Our Innovation Lab
This project will provide a dedicated safe space for all students to explore, ask questions, problem solve, and imagine solutions. This Innovation Lab will be a classroom where collaboration is encouraged and making mistakes is embraced and celebrated. While teachers strive to provide these opportunities in their individual classrooms, this project recognizes the need for a more comprehensive school-wide space that promotes Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math education. This lab will be full of resources, technology, seemingly unlimited materials, and inspiration.
Corey Heddon, University
The Rhythm Buzz – An Innovative Freshmen Transition Music Initiative
The Rhythm Buzz initiative is a dynamic teaching program, full of energy and drive with a focus on assisting in the transition of at-risk students from middle schools to high school, using percussion training as the vehicle. The school plans to expand a small existing program where current 8th graders (incoming freshmen), in the last few weeks of middle school, participate in introductory percussion training. It combines fast paced, loud, dynamic drumming exercises with the rigor and discipline associated with the artistry of percussion exercises in a five-week, afterschool series of workshops.
The grant program is in celebration of the 20 years IPSF has impacted education in Irvine. Since 1996, IPSF has awarded over $1 million to teachers and counselors, benefiting over 100,000 students since the program’s inception. Each year, IPSF provides millions in funding to IUSD to support STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) education, small-group learning, after-school and summer programs, grants for classroom innovation, and support for athletic trainers and school nurses. IPSF sponsors enrichment programs and provides financial support to ensure a world-class education in Irvine schools.