Technology foundation awards five teachers for projects

Fairchild Library's 3D printer.
Fairchild Library's 3D printer.

Innovation was the name of the game last Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.

Rob Miller, president of the Trumbull Technology Foundation, awarded certificates to five teachers whose proposals won Foundation grants for classroom innovation. The teachers off their innovative projects.

Tracey Ormond introduced a 3D printer to her Madison Middle School students. Eighth graders learn to create objects such as key chains, and seventh graders to print pulleys. Her sixth graders said “that is so cool,” and “we can’t wait to use it.”

Ormond called her project “Exciting, Engaging and Enriching,” and noted that “additive manufacturing will change (her students’) world.”

Lindsey Carley is bringing GPS into the classroom. Using online curricula, she is teaching third and fourth graders to use a GPS for activities including retracing a voyage of Christopher Columbus, then using Google Apps for Education to create a map of that voyage.

In addition to learning the technology, Ms. Carley said her students learned the value of collaboration.

Hans Drenkard, a THS Physics teacher, heads up the school’s competitive Robotics Team. He talked about the students learning to conceive, plan, build and program an autonomous robot — one that uses student written programs to perform its tasks rather than a radio control device — to move a ball from one place to another and lift and move a small object.

Donna Zimmer, Media Specialist at Jane Ryan, initiated a Legos for STEM program, a part of turning her library into a “learning commons,” and bringing STEM into the library.

Young students used Legos to build animals, vehicles and other small pieces Ms. Zimmer displays on a special wall.

She challenged them to make things like a “better house for the three little pigs.”

“This is better than Disney World,” one student proclaimed.

And Brenda Windsor, Technology Integration Specialist at Daniels Farm, showed off Osmo for Education. Using an iPad with a mirror that focuses the camera straight down, and, for example, Tangrams, the iPad software guides a student as she replicates an on-screen construction with pieces on her table, then applauds her when she’s done it.

Moving on, Dr. Gary Cialfi introduced Dr. Budd and Mr. Guarino, asking “How is this senior class doing with acceptances to the most dompetitive colleges,” as identified by Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges?

Mr. Guarino said this year’s seniors are doing better than 2015’s, with acceptances to 42 of the Most Competitive colleges, compared to 34 last year.

One of the issues, Cialfi noted, is his “great concern” about the size of the AP program. This year’s includes only 19 courses with 537 seats. Next year will see growth, with 23 courses seating over 900 students.

Dr. Budd stated that 30% of this year’s seniors have taken at least one AP course, but that figure will jump to 45% for the class of 2017.

Budd concluded that with the growing importance of AP courses, professional development is being stepped up. More importantly, the full curriculum, from kindergarten on, is being enriched to provide every student more of the skills and knowledge they will need to become realistic AP course candidates.