Innovate to Educate Entry
Maconaquah School Corporation
Cassandra Knolinski, 5th Grade High Ability Teacher
What innovative technology initiative or project are you most proud of, and how has it improved teaching and learning in your school/district?I am most proud of our contact with the International Space Station. After we talked to the Japanese astronaut, Kimiya Yui, while he was flying above us on the ISS, the experience inspired students to dream big. Some students received their HAM radio license. Other students wanted to join a HAM club to talk to people all over the world.
Our school is now a STEM school because we have had so much inspiration from this experience. We are currently finishing up the construction of a new STEM lab at our elementary school, and we have a STEM teacher dedicated to teach in this lab.
What were some of the biggest challenges to your initiative, and how did you meet those challenges?The first challenge was to write an educational plan so that all elementary students could take part in learning about the International Space Station. After NASA accepted our educational plan, we submitted our budget and equipment plan to NASA for the final application. Finally, we were one of the twelve organizations in the United States chosen to talk to an astronaut aboard the ISS.
The second challenge was to raise funds to purchase equipment in order to talk to an astronaut on the ISS. Thankfully, Purdue University College of Education donated $4000.00 to us in order to purchase equipment for this event.
After we had the equipment in our hands, the custodians helped us put our equipment on the roof, lay cable, and hook up our radios.
The next challenge was to choose 15 students from our elementary school to ask individual questions to the astronaut. So, we had a contest, and I chose the best 15 questions from the winning students out of 700 students. The last challenge was allowing everyone in the community as well as all student in the corporation to watch the contact with the ISS. There were not enough seats in our high school auditorium to house everyone. The elementary school students were able to watch it in the auditorium with us. However, there weren't enough seats for the whole corporation to come to the event. So we decided that we would let our elementary school watch the event in the auditorium while we would use live- stream video on the Internet for others to watch the event. Our technology department set this up for all students in our corporation and the community.
What are the three biggest components that need to be in place for tech innovation to succeed are:
Support from administration, school staff, and the community was so important in making this event a success. Our administrators helped make contacts with Purdue and local news stations in order to purchase equipment and publicize this event. Our technology department helped us with the live-streaming and extra equipment. Our school staff supported us by implementing my educational plan in their classrooms, helping with installing equipment on the roof of our school building, and taking time away from a normal schedule of lunch and classroom time to make this event a success.