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IMG 0430"I'm very excited to see the vision of students come to life!" – Jessica Jeffries

Thanks to growing donor support, the SCASD Education Foundation has been able to directly support the innovation and ideas of State College Area School District's teachers, and help them make their dreams a reality.

Jessica Jeffries, who teaches with the STEAM program at Gray’s Woods Elementary School was awarded funds for a 3D printer and filament package to be used in a collaboration with Park Forest Middle School and Mount Nittany Middle School Technology Education departments (STEAM differs from STEM – Science Technology Engineering Math -- in that it also offers Language Arts, lending the 'A' to STEAM). Middle school tech classes will develop the programming for 3D printed projects selected by elementary classrooms.

We reached out to her to learn more about this purposeful collaboration between elementary and middle school students, and how she envisions it promoting student engagement, learning, innovation and creativity.

How soon will you be able to get the printer set up and being used with your students?

JJ: We purchased the printer, and the 5th grade students have been exploring the TinkerCad design site. We have begun printing objects for our Gray's Woods garden; student-designed garden markers, birdhouses and hand rakes. When we reach a point of wanting to print multiple projects, we may need the support of middle school to help with the designing and slicing of projects since the elementary Chromebooks do not have the software for sending designed projects to the printer (I have been using my own computer to do the slicing of these first few projects). The students at GW are very excited and eager to learn more about 3D printing!

What kind of projects do you envision? What's the long-lasting impact of this printer in your classroom?

JJ: I wrote the grant to include a collaboration between our elementary school and the PFMS. The middle school students can help with the programming of projects the elementary students imagine and plan. The goal is to find projects that help to solve a classroom, school, or even community problem. For example, coat hooks needed in the office, or tags needed for pet shelters.

Here at Gray's Woods, our custodian Mr. Dean installed new shelving above the printer using 3D printed brackets (a test run to get the students involved in seeing how the printer works). In the photo with this article, you can see the finished shelves.

What gave you an interest in teaching STEAM?

JJ: I have always loved teaching science and inquiry and I feel that STEAM incorporates these ideas beautifully, in a problem-solving approach.

What's your favorite part of your job?

JJ: My favorite part of the job is seeing every grade from kindergarten through fifth grade every day!

Because of the SCASDEF Student Opportunity grant, now I can: add the power of 3D printing (a tangible solution to a problem) to our inquiry-based design cycle. I'm very excited to see the vision of students come to life!

Ms. Jeffries' classroom is one of seven that is tangibly changing thanks to the $7,516 that was awarded as part of the Student Opportunity Grant Program. Help us do even more! To donate to next year's Student Opportunity Grant Program, go to scasdfoundation.org/donate.