We grant advantage.
The Hamilton Wenham Education Fund exists for one reason: to provide potent, often unexpected, competitive advantages to our public schools through carefully-vetted grants. The Edfund Board of Directors reviews grant applications from the schools on a monthly basis.
Those applications that the Board agrees will provide a true competitive advantage to our kids, and that are not programs that should be funded within the normal school budget, are given the green light. Since its inception in 1990, the Edfund has funded more than $1 million in grants to the Hamilton Wenham Regional School District.
Technology Specialist, Heidi Hebert, has been a driving force for innovation in Hamilton Wenham’s School District for many years. This year is no different as Hebert, joined by all of the elementary level integrated technology specialists, received an Edfund grant to provide Pop-up Makerspaces for all the HWRS District’s elementary school children.
The teachers’ efforts are the result of unique collaboration with MIT’s Edgerton Center, which helped Hebert and her colleagues create and refine a program for bringing Makerspace project opportunities to students in HWRS District. This Edfund grant is the result of the comprehensive program developed by these teachers.
A key motivation for the program’s development came from Hebert and her colleagues’ observations that students and teachers are ready for hands-on innovation that takes place in the classroom, not just in one dedicated space. The new Pop-up Makerspaces in each elementary school building respond to our students’ appetite for innovation by providing mobile critical thinking and project-based learning opportunities that teachers can incorporate into their classrooms and use to complement any area of their curriculum.
Each of the Pop-up Makerspaces is outfitted with materials and equipment in one of six innovation focus areas: Robotics and Coding, Reverse Engineering, Environmental Innovation, Rube Goldberg Machines, Wearable Design and 3D Prototype. The Makerspaces’ design gives teachers the ability to tailor each focus area for Grades K-2 and 3-5, as well as the flexibility to rotate the curriculum throughout the school year.
The project’s possibilities are endless. Students might be challenged to create a Rube Goldberg system that uses a chain reaction to put coins in a bank, or they may take apart a small appliance and rebuild it into something entirely different based on their own creativity and initiative. Design challenges can encourage students to invent a new type of crutch that would allow for carrying one’s belongings, or to test a new system for collecting and recycling water.
The Edfund grant allows teachers and students to learn, practice and apply the Makerspaces’ philosophy by engaging in a process that fosters experiential learning through the stages of Prototype, Review and Revision. This process reflects important real-world practices that are key to succeeding in the areas of engineering, design, problem solving, collaboration and effective communication.
With the Pop-up Makerspaces, learning comes to life when students are out of their chairs and actively engaged in activities. Through this engagement, learning becomes fun, inquiry becomes adventure and collaborative innovation becomes motivation.
6 Fully outfitted Mobile Makerspace Carts including: (3) Rigamajig Builder Kits; (18) Ozobots; (3) Cricket Maker Cutting Machines; (18) Lego Simple Machines Kits; (6) 3-D Doodler Start Bundles; (3) Cubelets Robot Blocks Kits; (9) iPad Pros; (6) Sewing Machines; and (6) Ozmo Genius Kits.
Heidi Hebert, HWRSD Technology Specialist
To provide all elementary students with STEAM Makerspace opportunities, teach hands-on skills, and create interdisciplinary projects.
Cutler, Winthrop and Buker Students, Grades K
Sensory Supported Classroom
First graders at Cutler Elementary School opened the doors to an exciting new learning environment this school year thanks to the dedication and creativity of their teachers Carey Greene, Mary Adamik and Rebecca Pinciaro, who received an Edfund grant for their Sensory Supported Classroom.
In their years of teaching at Cutler, these first-grade teachers have seen many students who experience sensory integration, anxiety and attention challenges. These situations can affect all students in a classroom and have a significant impact on learning outcomes. Greene, Adamik and Pinciaro understood that all first-grade students can benefit from a re-imagined classroom design in which their needs were addressed purposefully, and where social-emotional supports are the foundation of the classroom layout, seating and work flow.
This Edfund grant has transformed the entire first-grade learning environment at Cutler, providing each of the three classrooms with furniture and materials that allow for a calming corner and/or sensory nook. Florescent lighting is filtered and a separate area in the classroom has been created to provide a calming environment for students who need a quiet space in order to focus. New storage solutions ensure children are able to access a variety of materials with ease and independence. Teachers also now have a range of seating options to offer to students. Seating can be tailored to energize the student who is working on stamina, calm the student who is feeling overwhelmed or provide support to the student who may benefit from collaborating with classmates.
A light table takes center stage in the classrooms by drawing children into the learning environment while providing them with visual sensory input. The tables enable students to examine and explore natural items in Science such as color prisms and plants. Within the Math curriculum, light tables can be used to create shapes, designs, patterns and constructions.
Sensory integration support materials and tools are now available for all students. These materials are available to assist students with focus during academic challenges or distractions. Innovative teachers are seeing the benefits of providing options for noise-cancelling headphones, kinetic sand and other options that provide variety to learning situations.
This team of reflective and innovative teachers collaborated with their colleagues, school administration, an occupational therapist and
a school adjustment counselor to develop this program. Together,
they have created a design that they anticipate will meet the social
and emotional learning needs of their students and help all students
to grow and thrive across all curriculum areas.
Sensory-supported Furniture and Materials including: (3) Natural Pod Light Tables; (24) Natural Pod Benches; (3) Kit Cubby Flex Units; (3) Easy Reach Storage Centers; (6) Calming Colors Alternative Seating Options; (3) Calming Corner Wooden Arches; (12) Light Diffuser Covers; (15) Noise-cancellation Headphones; and (15) Weighted Lap Bands.
Carey Greene, Mary Adamik and Rebecca Pinciaro
Cutler First-grade Teachers
To create a classroom environment dedicated to meeting the sensory and social-emotional needs of today’s students. To support students who are experiencing sensory integration sensitivities, anxiety and attention, motivation and stamina concerns. To foster independence and ownership of individual learning.
Cutler Elementary First-Graders
CNC Plasma Cutter
Techno CNC Tabletop Plasma Cutter, Hypertherm Powermax 45XP Plasma Torch, Vetric V-Carve Software, CNC Safety Enclosure, Steel Base, and AET Training.
Jeff Walsh, HWRHS Fabrication Technology, CAD, Engineering and Manufacturing Teacher
To allow students to design, engineer and cut customized projects out of steel. To learn real-world skills using current robotic technology being used in colleges and industry today.
HWRHS Students, Grades 9-12 in Engineering, Fabrication, Sculpture, Theater and Manufacturing Classes
Nature Station, Mud Station, Large-scale Chess Set, Built-in Matchbox Race Tracks, Laminated Tracking Map and Outdoor Lego Wall.
Dolly McIlvane, Cutler Adjustment Counselor (pictured)
and Ann Creilson, Cutler Counselor Intern,
along with Cutler students: Abigail Freire; Anand Gourley; Robert Hambelton; Hailey Ireland; Zachary Isaac; Andreas Moreira; Gracie Needham; Cameron Taylor; and Abi Ward
To provide students at Cutler Elementary School with recess options that support healthy social-emotional development for all. To support the DREAM student leadership program in developing leadership skills as they oversee the installation and implementation of
the new recess programs in the upcoming year.
Cutler Elementary Students, Grades K-5
(25) Makala Shark Soprano Ukuleles and Storage Units
Michael Ferreira, Buker Music Teacher
To engage students through music. To create a shared experience for all fifth-grade students to learn a common instrument and perform in front of their peers and younger students.
Buker Elementary, Fifth-Graders
Equipment and Materials for an Innovative, Inclusive, High-energy Elementary Fitness Curriculum
Buker and Winthrop Physical Education Teacher
To engage students in non-competitive, total-body workouts set to music, allowing them to cooperatively choreograph drumming routines with peers and integrate auditory, kinesthetic and visual learning styles.
Buker and Winthrop, Students, Grades K-5