Neighbors | Jessica Harker.Glenwood Junior High teacher Eric Diefenderfer controlled the virtual reality worlds Joul Kozar and Jevarac McNeil were able to see through their Google Expedition glasses on Oct. 30.
Neighbors | Jessica Harker.Students in Eric Diefenderfer's science class looked through the Google Expedition glasses at different expeditions to get a better understanding of various forms of energy.
Neighbors | Jessica Harker.Gianna DeNiro used the Google Expedition glasses Oct. 30 in Eric Diefenderfer's science class to better understand the flow of energy in various forms.
Neighbors | Jessica Harker.Boardman Glenwood Junior High School teacher Eric Diefenderfer instructed students on how to use the Google Expedition glasses he and two other teachers purchased with a grant from the Boardman School Fund for Educational Excellence.
Neighbors | Jessica Harker.Students in Glenwood Junior High School prepared to look through the school's Google Expedition glasses during Eric Diefenderfer's science class on Oct. 30.
Neighbors | Jessica Harker.Students Joul Kozar and Jevarac McNeil peered through the Google Expedition virtual reality glasses during class on Oct. 30.
By JESSICA HARKER
The Boardman Local School’s Fund for Educational Excellence is preparing to give out its annual grants for the 2018 school year.
Edie Davidson, the head of the BSFEE board, said that each year the board gives Boardman teachers the ability to apply for a grant to fund a unique project to benefit their students.
“What we are looking for is special projects that are not just what they can do with the money they are granted from the school board but things that are special,” Davidson said. “Things that make learning more interesting and engaging.”
Teachers from any Boardman school are able to apply for the grant, with a maximum of $1,500 being awarded per teacher.
Applicants submit their ideas in October, and then there is a preliminary screening process that selects 10 teachers in the beginning of November who can present their project to the board.
“We are looking for grants that still follow school curriculum, something that is sustainable, and really look for things that can reach the widest number of students,” Davidson said.
During the submission process, members of the board visit Boardman schools to see demonstrations of last years projects.
Nine members of the BSFEE go from school to school to see the application of the grant money from the previous year.
“Having been a Boardman teacher this is just a wonderful opportunity for teachers to be able to do the special things that they have in their minds that they would like to do to make learning fun,” Davidson said.
A number of teachers from Glenwood Junior High School received grants last year for a wide range of projects.
Gym teacher Danielle Sambida received a grant for flex bands, that she has incorporated into her gym class to allow students to create their own exercise plan.
“They are really engaged with it, rather than just telling the kids this is what they are doing today they were able to work up their own exercise routines and addressing their own strengths or weaknesses around the bands,” Davidson said. “It really puts the burden of learning on them.”
Eric Diefenderfer, a science teacher at Glenwood, along with Carlo Cordon and Vince Carnivale, also received grant money last year to purchase a Google Expedition VR goggle kit for students.
Diefenderfer said their project was unique because Davidson gave the group the green light to submit two proposals to receive $3,000 to purchase the kit, rather than the usual $1,500 per project.
“Our goal was to get every teacher on board so they could use it in their classrooms,” Cordon said. “Our goal is to get these in the hands of every kid in this building.”
The kit includes 10 VR goggles, and a tablet for the teacher to control the expedition through.
“I think we all do creative lessons but this is a whole new thing for me,” Cordon said.
The glasses are used to allow student to explore first hand various places around the world they would never be able to encounter.
Cordon and Carnivale are history teachers, and Davidson said the project was important because of the cross subject collaboration it allowed for.
“I am impressed with the ideas the teachers come up with and the things that they are able to do with the students,” Davidson said. “You can really tell when we go and observe these students how involved they are.”
Diefenderfer used the goggles to help student visualize the flow of energy through dams, windmills and more.
He said that the goggles help students who are visual learners conceptualize what can seem abstract ideas when they are reading them on paper.
Additionally, Cordon said he uses the goggle to transport students to the places they are learning about, but will probably never be able to visit, including Ancient Greece and famous museums.
“For me it was too enrich them and so we can talk about it I can show them pictures or videos but now I am actually taking them there,” Cordon said.
Cordon also said that for Carnivale, who teaches American history, uses the goggles to show his students famous American monuments before they take a trip to Washington D.C. so they can understand what they are seeing.
“Its one things to have a lesson but its another thing of how to use these, and make sure students get something out of it,” Diefenderfer said. “Not every student has experiences outside of the classroom up close.”
Davidson said that the BSFEE has been going on for nine years, and is growing largely due to their annual reverse raffle fundraising event.
This year is the fourth raffle, which will take place on March 8 at Avion on the Water.
“The money that we can get we try to build up a fund so that we can give a percentage each year,” Davidson said. “We have been able to nearly double the fund because of the reverse raffle.”