Innovate to Educate Entry

Perry Local Schools

Sarah Rivera, STEM/Science 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 my Engineering students' partnership with the E-NABLE organization to provide 3D printed prosthetic hands for students in need all over the world. This initiative has changed the way I teach the class because it brought a real-world, authentic learning opportunity to my students in which they were involved in every step of the design, implementation, and construction of their learning. Connecting this project to the real-world helped the students see outside of the four walls of the classroom and embody the principles of student-driven learning and service learning (helping others through actions and processes).

What were some of the biggest challenges to your initiative, and how did you meet those challenges?

The biggest challenge to this initiative was the initial start-up with the 3D printers, which are used to make the parts for the prosthetic hands. I had no prior knowledge of how to use the 3D printers, so I spent many hours figuring out the nuances of them, how to operate them, and the issues may arise while using them. I then passed on that knowledge to my students through both direct and indirect instruction so they could become self-directed, authentic learners and take ownership of the project and the opportunity that I presented them.

What are the three biggest components that need to be in place for tech innovation to succeed are:

Administrative support
Open-mindedness from teachers, administrators, students, and the community
Willingness to take risks and realize that failure will happen, but every piece is a learning opportunity to grow from

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