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
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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.

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