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.

250+ Attend Trivia Night to Support WSD Students!

What 1977 movie won the Oscar for best picture beating out All the President’s Men, Network and Taxi Driver? (Answer below)

This was just one of the mind bending trivia questions that attendees attempted to answer at the 2nd annual WEOF Trivia Night on March 4th. More than 250 staff, parents, and community members participated, raising fun and funds for Wissahickon students. More than $10,000 in proceeds will be used to support WEOF grants for innovative educational programs at all of our schools.

The evening included 10 rounds of fast paced trivia with questions ranging from music to math. Participants teamed up in tables of 10 with the Middle School Team, Stuck in the Middle (represented by staff members Carol Malazita, Stephanie Leister, Jamie Shapiro, Jason Bialka, Bethany Berger, Kris DiGregorio and Beth Bauer) claiming the victory. Attendees also supported WEOF by participating in a silent auction, 50-50 raffle, raffle baskets and EZ pass purchases which allowed each table to buy up to 10 correct answers.

Trivia Answer: “Rocky”