WEOF Awards Nearly $14,000 in Grants at its May Meeting

Four grants to enhance instruction for Wissahickon students were approved at the May 31st, 2016 meeting of the Wissahickon Educational Opportunities Foundation (WEOF). The grants totaling nearly $14,000 include:

  • $5,178 awarded to both Wissahickon High School and Middle Schools to fund Rachel’s Challenge assemblies for the school community. Rachel’s Challenge is a non-profit organization that provides powerful programs to raise awareness and deepen a sense of community through identity, security, and belongingness. The organization values positive characteristics similar to those demonstrated by Rachel Scott, first victim killed in the tragic 1999 Columbine School shootings, and engages schoolwide audiences. Funding will also support an evening parent/community program and training for 50 students (25 from each of the 2 schools) who were nominated to serve as a member of Friends of Rachel (FOR). The purpose of FOR is to implement strategies gained from the assembly and develop activities to build a permanent structure of kindness, compassion, and inclusion at WHS and WMS.
  • $500 awarded to Stephanie Leister, 8th Grade Social Studies Teacher, to purchase a buzzer system to better prepare for the National Geographic and History bees. Students do not have the opportunity to practice with a buzzer system before attending the competitions, and find it to be a stressful situation when encountering them for the first time at the actual competition. Practicing with the buzzers will aid in their success! Students in all grade levels can also use these systems for other programs, such as Math Counts, the Element Bee, etc.
  • $7,813 awarded to Robin Martino, Blue Bell Physical Education & Heath Teacher, to support the construction of a rock climbing wall. The project will include a traverse climbing wall which is climbed horizontally and will be used to support fitness instruction for all 400+ kindergarten through fifth grade students at Blue Bell.
  • $457 awarded to 6th grade teacher, Caeli Duke, to purchase a buzzer system called Eggsbert. The buzzers can be used by all 6th grade teachers to energize class review and add pizzazz to daily activities. Eggspert’s two fun game modes—Quiz Show and Wheel of Fortune—spice up math facts drills, spelling bees, and quiz games on any subject. Using the wireless Teacher Remote, the instructor can set Eggspert’s lights in motion, choose players, select fun sound effects, and even adjust response times—whether at her desk or anywhere in the classroom. Because student response buttons are wireless too, students can buzz in from their desks—even at the back of the class. Great for differentiated instruction!

Changes to the WEOF Board

Blue Bell Elementary MakerSpace Gets a Boost from WEOF!

Lego Wall 4Students at Blue Bell Elementary have been busy exploring, building, innovating and having fun in the new MakerSpace – a dedicated area with building materials, such as Legos, electronic kits, gadgets and other technology to teach students about robotics, coding, engineering and more. Led by Librarian Lisa Ruff, the initiative to develop a MakerSpace kicked off this school year and has quickly grown with the support of staff, parents and community members and most recently a $5,600 grant from the Wissahickon Educational Opportunities Foundation (WEOF).

Ruff requested the grant after surveying students about the types of activities and materials they wanted in the MakerSpace. She determined that students wanted to build their own robots and use coding to control the robots. After consulting a variety of sources, including the WMS Robotics coaches, Ruff decided to request two Lego Education products, WeDo 2.0 and EV3 – products that offer customization along with graphic and text coding and use students’ familiarity with Legos bricks to build things.  She also sought funding for Ozobots  – small robots that use graphic coding commands to control the robot. Ruff was awarded the grant to purchase these items at the April WEOF meeting.

“Through the generosity of WEOF and our school community, we built a MakerSpace together that is going to provide enriched learning opportunities for our students. All students deserve exposure and access to these types of experiences in a 21st century learning environment,” Ruff said.

The Maker movement started with a Lego wall. During the school year, the community donated 45 baseplates needed to complete the wall as well as hundreds of Lego bricks.

The first challenge was for students to build something that would not fall off the wall.  “As easy as the challenge may sound, several groups did not complete it.  Tears were avoided by celebrating these “productive” failures and learning from them,” Ruff said. “Students evaluated their designs along with their classmates and the flaws were observed with suggestions on how remedy them.  Some of what the students also learned from the failures was to not give up by working through frustration, to take risks, share ideas, predicting/testing of ideas, revising and modifying, and the value of diversity of thought gained when working with others.”

Ruff plans to continue using challenges for the wall and is looking forward to incorporating the new robots to spark the builder, creator, innovator, and tinkerer in all the students.

Ambler Savings Bank Awards $10,000 Grant to Enhance WMS MakerSpace

A $10,000 grant awarded to the Wissahickon Educational Opportunities Foundation (WEOF) by Ambler Savings Bank will help enhance the popular MakerSpace at Wissahickon Middle School (WMS). During a check presentation to WEOF and WMS on March 29th, Ambler Savings Bank was provided student demonstrations in the innovative new learning space incorporated at the beginning of this school year.

Ambler Savings Donates $10,000 to MakerSpaceA former computer lab, the MakerSpace was created for students to make, innovate, create and design. The MakerSpace features dedicated space for students to learn about robotics, science, technology, art and math through engaging, hands-on activities. Students showed representatives of Ambler Savings Bank how they work with Romo and Sphero Robots, little Bits electronic sets, Hot Wheels Speedometry Kits and a MakerBot Replicator 5th Generation 3D Printer.

Ambler Savings Bank provided the grant through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC), a state program which allows participating businesses to support innovative educational improvement organizations like WEOF and receive a tax credit on their state taxes. The grant will be used to support additional MakerSpace equipment and activities at WMS and the Wissahickon elementary schools.

“We are so grateful to Ambler Saving Bank for this generous grant to expand our MakerSpace. The students absolutely love this learning environment which sparks their creativity, innovative thinking and interest in science, technology, engineering and math,” said Dianne Krause, Wissahickon Instructional Technology Specialist.

“Ambler Savings Bank is excited to begin a partnership with Wissahickon School District, and especially to provide funding for innovative and technological classrooms, such as the MakerSpace at the Wissahickon Middle School. We look forward to growing our relationship with the school district, while promoting Ambler Savings Bank’s commitment to public education,” said Roger Zacharia, President and CEO of Ambler Savings Bank.

Pictured: Ambler Savings Bank presents a $10,000 donation to the Wissahickon Educational Opportunities Foundation (WEOF) to enhance the MakerSpace at Wissahickon Middle School. Pictured top row, left to right: Chris Leauby, Co-President of WEOF; Roger Zacharia, Ambler Savings Bank President and CEO; Erin Cohen, Assistant Vice President/Retail Officer; Beth Bauer, WMS Principal; and Dianne Krause, Instructional Technology Specialist. Front row: Wissahickon Middle School students.