Since its inception in 2009, Canyons District has been unwavering in its support of innovation in the classroom.
With rapid advances in technology, the sky’s the limit, but it takes an innovative teacher to put technology to effective use, says Canyons Education Foundation Director Laura Barlow. “With their training and boots-on-the-ground perspective, teachers know what works and doesn’t work to help students succeed. The seeds of innovation start with them.”
Such was the impetus behind the Foundation’s Innovation grants, which are awarded each year to fuel teachers’ winning ideas for enhancing classroom instruction. Applications for the 2017-2018 round of grants are being accepted now through 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017.
Barlow says, the awards will be based on the educational merit of the projects that teachers propose. She encourages teachers to be specific about how their project would improve learning outcomes or the learning environment for students.
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Last year, the Foundation competitively awarded $100,000 in grants to 12 teachers. The grants brought 3D printing to Royce Shelley’s calculus class at Corner Canyon High, and have enabled Matty Barth’s students to communicate in Spanish with pen pals from around the world.
Two years ago, generous donors made it possible for a Jordan High mathematics teacher to create an after-school “makers” club where students could build the skills they need to realize their dreams of creating liquid superconductors and sending satellites into space. The club morphed into a yearly class, which, when infused with a second Canyons Foundation Innovation Grant, was able to field the Beetdigger’s first robotics teamnow, the reigning regional champs.
“We’ve tried for a long time to start FIRST Robotics team, but we didn’t have the funding,” says the team’s advisor Cameo Lutz. “In past years, some of our brightest students have had to compete for neighboring teams.”
For Jordan to win the 2017 Utah FIRST Regional Robotics competition its inaugural year is almost unprecedented, says Lutz. In just two years, her students went from a rag-tag group of rookie tinkerers to the No. 1 robotics team in the region. They outwitted 48 teams from seven states and Canada, most of whom have years of experience and access to hundreds-of-thousands in funding.
“Jordan High’s victory is a perfect example of how money goes from a donor to the Foundation to the teacher to make a measurable difference for students,” says Barlow.