Teachers sometimes struggle to get their students’ attention amid the common use of technological devices, but CenturyLink’s Teachers and Technology Program has offered a select group of Arizona teachers the chance to turn the tables. Instead of fighting against the use of technology, Arizona teachers embrace the advent of technology in the classroom by making use of the latest educational tools.

The grant program

Arizona teachers are building a better future by using technology in the classroom - KTAR.com

Arizona teachers are building a better future by using technology in the classroom

For many classrooms, a television and overhead projector just aren’t enough to compete with the technology of today. That’s why teachers across the country used their know-how when submitting applications to the CenturyLink Clarke M. Williams Foundation’s Teachers and Technology grant program. Overall, the goal of the program is to help teachers find ways to bring more advanced technology into their classrooms for the benefit of learning. Hopefully, an added benefit would also be that the money and technology received could help students learn and have fun doing it.

The winning teachers’ grant applications outlined a clear plan for how they would use the requested technology to help grow their students and enrich their classroom experience.

“The winning teachers’ and their projects were inspirational. We recognize the importance of introducing young people to science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, concepts to better prepare them for successful careers and to build a pipeline of skilled employees for the future”, said Chris Denzin, CenturyLink Vice President of Operations for Arizona. “We are pleased to be able to help these passionate educators innovatively implement technology in their classrooms.”

Local winners

This year’s Teachers and Technology program awarded $124,000 in funds to teacher recipients in CenturyLink’s local service areas. Over 180 applications were submitted and 29 grants up to $5,000 each were selected. Grants were awarded based on the impact they will have on students in the classroom and the overall innovation of the project. CenturyLink service is neither required nor considered in the review of applications.

Some very hardworking and lucky Arizona teachers were also rewarded for their efforts. Here’s how local winners are using the money to encourage positive technology usage in their classrooms to make learning more fun.

Corona Foothills Middle School

Corona Foothills Middle School in Tucson was awarded more than $4,000 to purchase 10 LEGO®MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 robots for students to explore the different properties of electrical charges and conservation. The Lego Education program also provides grants for schools expanding their STEM programs. Students will have the ability to build, program and command their own robot while learning about the different properties of electricity. Teacher Mary Garcia submitted the project plans to help create more participation and excitement about STEM projects and new technology. 

Taft Elementary School

Taft Elementary School in Mesa was awarded $5,000 to purchase ceiling mount projectors for their classrooms to increase student attention and engagement. The use of the projectors will allow more flexibility in the classrooms while enhancing collaboration and communication skills amongst students. Teacher Debra Odle submitted the project. Many teachers are using the overhead projectors in classrooms for things such as Powerpoint Jeopardy and virtual field trips to expand their understanding of different cultures. Students can now develop regular interaction with students around the world with games such as Mystery Skype, where classrooms can connect and learn about each other through a series of questions.

Xavier College Preparatory

Xavier College Preparatory in Phoenix was awarded over $4,900 to purchase a 3-D printer to teach students about medical engineering. The printer will offer students the ability to design, customize, build, and test prosthetic, cochlear, surgical, and rehabilitative prototypes in the classroom. It will also promote creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills in students. 3D printers have been used for bone and even bio-printing a kidney a kidney for research at Harvard. According to this report by Wohler’s, the 3D Printing industry surpassed 5.1 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow. Teacher Nathan Ward submitted the project.

Technology connecting students

It’s apparent that these teachers understand the importance of global awareness and STEM technology in the classroom. Growth in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) jobs are expected to continue to outpace growth in non-STEM jobs over the next decade, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics report. STEM occupations also paid a higher average of $85,200 compared with $45,100 for non-STEM occupations.

In an article about the importance of students learning about other cultures, The Guardian quotes famous French novelist Marcel Proust when he said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new lands, but in seeing with new eyes.”

As most public schools aren’t necessarily able to complete a study abroad, these new devices and software offer a legitimate alternative to helping students enjoy learning while broadening their horizons in every way.

Today’s use of devices and the internet open up a whole new world of possibilities — ones that the above teachers aren’t afraid to explore.