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Palm Coast Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 1 week ago

Flagler County teachers receive $20,000 grant for innovative technology projects

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The TERRA grant will provide learning opportunities around the county.

By: Melanie Tahan, Rymfire Elementary School media specialist

Funding for eight innovative technology projects has been awarded to teachers in Flagler County schools through the Technology Education Resource and Redesign Alliance, Inc. grant. Schools across the state apply for this grant, which awards $50,000 per year to Florida projects. TERRA’s Mini-Grants are intended to support school-based projects in pre-K through grade 12 that are consistent with TERRA’s mission and have a positive impact on education by using technology. This year, Flagler County teachers received over $20,000, allowing for projects that provide students with authentic learning opportunities and, in many cases, support the district-wide Flagship Choice career exploration initiative. 

Belle Terre Elementary School Media Specialist Stacy Anderson is excited to receive funding for a video production project, titled “Lights, Camera, Learning in Action.” Through this project, she will be creating a podcasting and film studio in the school library. Students in grades PreK-6 will have opportunities to create book trailers, tutorial videos and podcasts to demonstrate their knowledge across all subject areas. 

At Buddy Taylor Middle School, Andrew Medearis received funding to continue his switchgrass trial project, in which students in the STEM/Agriculture program will attempt to create biofuel pellets. Medearis began this project last year, with funding from TERRA grant and other sources. This project supports Buddy Taylor’s Flagship initiative for Agronomy, Biotechnology and Engineering.

STEM teacher Tom Westly, from Bunnell Elementary School, will receive funding to help students build Mars Habitation Modules and online virtual tours, which will be viewed through Virtual Reality Headsets. Students will learn about the challenges for sustaining life on Mars, and develop a better appreciation for protecting our own planet. 

Flagler Palm Coast High School i3 Academy teacher Corinne Schaefer is receiving funding to support her game design class, inspiring students to create a digital scavenger hunt for elementary students. Her class will travel to the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine and create a game using location devices and Augmented Reality. 

Andrew Hutcheson, AP Physics teacher at Matanzas High School, also created a project that allows his high school students to create content for elementary classes. Students will use various physics materials and technology to create “Bill Nye” style videos to help teach gravity, forces and other science concepts.  

Teresa Rizzo, Kindergarten teacher at Old Kings Elementary, is interested in taking the technology outside through her “Using iPads to Get Up Close with Nature” project. Students will have the opportunity to explore nature, including bug hotels and butterfly gardens, then document their observations using iPads. 

Rymfire Elementary School science teacher Anthony Asay and Media Specialist Melanie Tahan earned funding for drone technology devices to help enhance the sixth grade science curriculum and allow students to engineer drone deliveries to individuals needing assistance due to medical emergencies or natural disasters. 

At Wadsworth Elementary, Martin Evans received funding to support his STEM Academy initiative and help students create robots and travel to robotics exhibitions this year. Wadsworth Elementary is a Flagship school for S.T.E.A.M. 

Flagler County Digital Support Colleague, Kristin Harrington helped facilitate the application process for many of these projects, collaborating with teachers to design and write the grants.

“The funding we received exceeded our expectations,” Harrington said. “We are so thankful to the TERRA organization and can’t wait to get started with these projects.”

Last year, Ryan Deising, executive director of instructional and operational innovation, introduced the TERRA grant to Flagler County, learning about it through his role as a board member for the Florida Council of Instructional Technology Leaders (FCITL) organization.

“I am happy to see technology being used in innovative ways across our district,” Deising said. 

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