×
×
homepage logo

UVU, USU and Facebook team up to bring STEM resources to the Alpine School District

By Ryne Williams daily Herald - | Feb 26, 2021
1 / 3

A Student from Forbes Elementary School in American Fork uses a VR headset that was included in the SEEdPOD donated to the school in coordination with UVU, Utah State, the Alpine School District and Facebook.

2 / 3

Students from Forbes Elementary School in American Fork unpack the items and activities included in the SEEdPOD that was donated to the school in coordination with UVU, Utah State, the Alpine School District and Facebook.

3 / 3

Students from Forbes Elementary School in American Fork unpack the items and activities included in the SEEdPOD that was donated to the school in coordination with UVU, Utah State, the Alpine School District and Facebook.

On Friday, a trailer filled with STEM teaching tools and more pulled up to Forbes Elementary School in American Fork to deliver those goodies to the teachers and students at the school.

As students came out of the school to unload the items, they discovered a 3D printer, VR headsets, an earthquake simulator, volcano kits, tuning forks and solar car kits among other items such as books and learning activities.

The SEEdPOD project, short for Science and Engineering Education POD, started in 2019 with pilot studies at elementary schools in Provo and Orem. The name for the project SEEd acronym comes from Utah’s Science and Engineering Education standards for schools and the lessons are stored in the trailers called “pods.”

Facebook, UVU, Utah State and the Alpine School District came together to help fund the curriculum as a part of the new K-6 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) standards that the state set.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, activities were halted with teachers until the project began to pick up momentum toward the end of the year. Teachers in both the Provo and Alpine school districts helped review the lesson plans made by students from UVU, which further helped the students involved.

UVU students Jessica Pierce, Kylee Pugh and Kate Elliott were all involved in the project, helping to write the lesson plans, developing curriculum finding materials, and meeting the needs of the teachers and students.

“It’s really been a lot of blood sweat and tears that have gone into this,” said Elliott, the creative learning liaison. “We have put a lot of effort into doing it.”

From the pilot study, the three were able to take the supplies and lessons to implement them and make revisions. Since then, the group from UVU has been preparing for the lessons and materials to go out to the schools.

One instance of a revision to the plans had a lesson including a leaf blower and a beach ball to learn about gravity. The teachers responded and said that the activity was a bit much, so the leaf blower was changed to a hairdryer and the beach ball was switched to be a ping-pong ball. Decisions for the activities were made in coordination with the teachers and gave the students from UVU some in-person experience with teachers. It will be a great resume builder, according to UVU Assistant Professor Krista Ruggles.

“Now we’re here, it’s going to one of the schools and it’s really exciting,” Pierce said.

Danielle Kennedy, Alpine School District elementary science specialist, said the teachers also are very excited to receive the trailers.

These teachers were given new standards and told to start, but many had to be creative with the supplies they had. This donation will allow teachers to have an idea and do more with less prep, where they may have been limited prior.

“For the teachers, they get to have access to a lot of tools that are otherwise outside of our abilities to get as quickly,” Kennedy said. “Truthfully, it allows them to be creative in many different ways. It allows them to take the engineering and do these new standards the way they are meant to be taught. It’s really exciting for teachers to be given the right kinds of tools that they need to teach what is being asked of them.”

The donations also allow for students to get a deeper learning activity with hands-on activities.

Sixth-grader Kirsten Hall was especially excited about using the VR headsets that were donated and thought of using the headsets to go to different natural biomes like the inside of a volcano.

“We’re really excited, it means new hands-on opportunities and it means good things,” Hall said. “We’re finally getting some real supplies, actual resources because, let’s just put it this way, everyone knows that a school’s budget is never exactly big.”

William Marks, the community development manager for Facebook in Utah, added that the company wants to be a good community partner, supporting local schools, businesses and nonprofits.

Facebook knows that STEM is the future of learning and education and it is here to support it, according to Marks.

“The entire Facebook team is absolutely thrilled to be a part of this community and really it is all about the people,” Marks said. “You see UVU, they’ve got the ideas. Then the school district, they bring the enthusiasm, and from Facebook’s perspective, if we can be a great partner and bring together the ideas with the enthusiasm, that makes all the difference.”

The number of SEEdPOD trailers is expected to increase as more begin to visit junior high and high schools in the area.

Newsletter

Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)