May 30, 2017 - The Gizmo Garden Fund is pleased to announce the awarding of grants that have a combined value of up to $96,000. That tally includes phase one grants being funded today and phase two grants that are pending the meeting of certain goals. Grants from the Gizmo Garden Fund are awarded to Maine organizations for the purpose of gender-balanced education of 6-12th graders in the fields of coding, electronics, and robotics. If you would like to be on the email distribution list for future RFPs, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The eight winning projects and their organizations are:
Kinetic Sculpture combining Art Classes with VEX Afterschool Club
Oceanside High (Rockland)
Artists and engineers will come together at Oceanside to give life to a kinetic sculpture. Though Oceanside already has a gender-balanced competitive VEX robotics after-school club, they will add a second VEX team to work with art students to create a small-scale sculpture with robotic motion. Gifted & Talented teacher Anne Pietroski, robotics coach Janet Corcoran, and art teacher Jared Cowen will lead the project, assisted by technology integrator Ester McKay. Phase 1 funding of $10,600 will provide teacher stipends for planning and advising, plus additional VEX robots. A possible phase 2 could enable turning the student prototype into a larger professional installation for the public to enjoy.
Underwater Vehicles in Science Class
Edgecomb Eddy School
Science & technology teacher Julie Higgins already has an outstanding track record of inspiring both boys and girls to create with robotics. Using this $8,500 grant, her Edgecomb Eddy sixth graders will build SeaPerch underwater remotely-operated vehicles as a way of exploring marine engineering. In addition to SeaPerch equipment, the grant will fund a SmartBoard projector, a 3D printer, and a stipend.
Carnival of Lego Robots Afterschool and Robotics Integral to Science Class
In order to change the tendency of their after-school robotics club to comprise all boys, Windsor Elementary will pursue two simultaneous paths. First, so that a wider variety of students will develop confidence in their robotics abilities, 6th-8th-grade science teacher Michael Praschak will incorporate Lego robotics into his curriculum. Additionally, to improve retention of girls who venture to try after-school robotics, math teacher and robotics advisor Shawn Barnes will decrease the need to compete for equipment and space, and will provide students with the option to pursue a creative robotics project. Though students will choose their project when they meet next year, one possibility is a carnival, where a Lego robot follows a path to stations like a Ferris wheel and games, triggering them to activate. Phase One of their grant will provide $13,000 for ten additional robots, a 3D printer, stipends for the two teachers, and various supplies. A possible phase two would extend the program for a second year.
Print-a-Pet, Game Creation at Library
Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library
This summer, Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library will present “Print-a-Pet,” a curriculum originally developed by Mike Lee at Skidompha Library. Boothbay students will sketch animal shapes, digitize and 3D print them, and then learn basic electronic assembly skills in order to animate them with flashing eyes and wagging tails. Additionally, Youth Coordinator Desirée Scorcia, who already has 24% female attendance at her MineCraft club, will expand the club with older students, adding further coding via the Tynker curriculum, and will start a new game-design group. She’ll reach out to girls in the area with events including a screening of Hidden Figures and an eclipse viewing party. The grant of $11,700 will fund stipends, 3D printers, supplies, curriculum, and outreach activities.
Pope Mobiles in Afterschool Club
Saint John’s Catholic School (Brunswick)
Fun will be the focus as Jennifer Nelson kicks off St. John’s first after-school technology education program, a club she’s calling Sensation Jollification Collaboration Spiritualization (same acronym as the school.) Jen has six boys and six girls eager to practice electronic assembly skills using kits from Adafruit, and then to progress to using those skills, plus coding, to create robotic Pope Mobiles, which they will demonstrate for parents at their at their end-of-year curriculum fair. Their $7,250 grant will fund an advisor stipend, Adafruit kits, and Arduino-controlled Parallax robots.
Roving Robot Elective
Winslow Junior High
After surveying students to determine which subjects might excite the girls as much as the boys, Winslow is adding a one-trimester elective for 7th and 8th graders that will use SparkFun electronics to create a custom robot that will patrol the school. The guidance department will help to ensure as gender-balanced a class as possible given student sign-ups. This will be a learning adventure for G&T/coding teacher Ginny Brackett and STEM teacher Andy Dorion, as well as for the students. Phase one of the grant will provide $4,000 for an initial parts kit, training and professional development during the autumn 2017. A potential phase two will provide electronic/robot parts for use in the classroom during spring 2018.
Girls’ Lego Robotics Club
Parent volunteers Julie Swain, Jo Prince, Bill Swain, and Michael Hoeft have been running an after-school code.org and Lego robotics club at Kingfield Elementary. With their grant, they will add a second program just for girls. Both clubs will aim for fun learning projects, rather than competition. The first phase of their grant, for $3,600, will provide a stipend that will enable Kingfield to hire a robotics leader. A potential second phase of will enable the purchase of additional robotic equipment.
Better World through Code in Social Studies
Nobleboro Central School
Nobleboro has no current coding or robotics activities, but they do have “Be a Learner” time integrated with their Social Studies classes, so they’ll leverage off of that as a starting point. One activity during “Be a Learner” has been imagining an invention that could change the world for the better. With phase 1 funding of $8,200, the school will purchase computers so that students can use the Code.org curriculum to learn how code can be a tool for turning imagined inventions into realities. Phase 1 also includes stipends and professional development for technology coordinator Linda Taylor and other teachers. A possible phase 2 could enable robotics and electronics in science classes, pending approval of more detailed plans. Update 6/16/17: Nobleboro Central's plans for use of their grant have evolved. Contact the school for the latest information.