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PPS Teachers Are Finalists in STEM Challenge Competition

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PPS Teachers Are Finalists in STEM Challenge Competition
Posted on 11/14/2016
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Three teachers from Lincoln Middle School and a teacher from Portland High School are finalists in a new competition designed to give K-12 educators the opportunity to try out highly innovative ideas in STEM teaching and learning.  The teachers will compete on Friday, Nov. 18, at Colby College to win grants of $2,000 or $5,000 to implement their ideas.

The Lincoln Middle School finalists in the inaugural 2016 STEM Education Innovation Challenge Grant Competition are eighth-grade teachers science teachers Christel Driscoll and Franklin Sames, and engineering technology teacher Thomas Fournier. Their proposal, titled “Wind Powered Kinetic Sculptures,” was one of six to make it to the final competition.

Portland High School science teacher Rosalee Lamm’s proposal, “Creating a ‘Virtual Reality, ’” also was one of the six projects selected.

The teachers will present their ideas in a “fast pitch” way on Friday – a high energy, rapid-fire presentation event during which finalists share their vision and impact of their ideas with the audience and judges – in just eight minutes! Their presentations will take place at the 2016 Maine STEM Summit, being held in Waterville at Colby College that day. After the presentations, presenters will win grant awards at the $2,000 level or $5,000 level to support implementation of their ideas.

The “Wind Powered Kinetic Sculptures” proposal calls for students to collaborate in teams to plan and design a wind powered kinetic sculpture made mostly of reused household and industrial materials.  The kinetic sculptures will be tested for mechanical efficiency, and students will compare energy input to energy output to allow them to engineer modifications. The project integrates math, physical science, engineering technology and art concepts, while empowering and inspiring students to develop a creative "do it yourself" ethos in their life to find new purposes of obsolete or discarded materials.

The “Creating a ‘Virtual Reality,’” project involves Virtual Reality (VR), an emerging media technology with a rapidly expanding marketplace of VR content. This student-led project will give students the opportunity to create, edit and market VR content for use by staff and students, both in and out of the classroom. It will provide students with cutting-edge technological skills, and enable the Portland High School community to consume custom-made examples of this revolutionary form of media.

The STEM Education Innovation Challenge Grant Competition is put on by the  Maine STEM Collaborative, with financial support from the Maine Space Grant Consortium. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

Although the collaborative hopes that “all funded ideas will be successful, we are more interested in stimulating an innovation culture within Maine’s K-12 community that ‘does not think out of the box, but thinks there is no box,’ and empowers educators to ‘try fast, learn quickly, fail small, and evolve rapidly.’ We also encourage ideas that combine the arts, humanities, and/or social sciences with STEM, as long as the outcomes focus on enhancing STEM teaching and learning.”

More than 200 people are expected at the Nov. 18 2016 Maine STEM Summit. Attendees typically represent k-12 teachers and administrators; university faculty, staff and administrators; state government officials; state legislators; members from the business community; and community-at-large members.

For more information on the Maine STEM Summit, visit its website: http://mainestem.org/stem-summit/