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Teacher innovation grants announced

Discovery Middle School and teacher Lukas Gotto received a $3,600 grant from the Alexandria Education Foundation. The grant will be used to provide additional Sphero robots for the Makerspace lab, to reinforce math concepts. (Contributed)

The Alexandria Education Foundation is awarding $33,083 in teacher grants to fund 11 enrichment projects in Alexandria public schools for the coming school year.

Projects funded for the 2018-19 school year are:

• Makerspace, $6,000, for 540 students in grades K-5 in Voyager Elementary, under teacher Jacob Munsch. Goal: To create a Makerspace lab for all grade levels. A makerspace is a collaborative learning environment with hands-on, creative projects that encourage students to design, experiment, build, and invent.

• Green Off-Grid Power System for a Tiny House, $5,000, for 75-100 students in grades 11-12, under teacher Todd Dahlseid. Goal: A project for physics students to design a green off-grid power system that can support the power needed by the tiny house constructed by Geometry in Construction students and faculty.

• A Camera for Every Student, $4,332, for 1,215 students in grades 9-12 under teacher Kassandra Gibbons. Goal: To purchase 19 professional-level cameras/lenses for the high school art department and create a full classroom set of 32 cameras, to be used by photography classes.

• Elementary Robotics, $4,150, for 149 students in grades K-5 at Miltona Magnet Elementary under teacher Denise Jorud. Goal: To purchase a VEX IQ Starter Kit for an elementary robotics experience.

• Ninja Warrior Obstacle Course, $4,000, for 500 K-5 students at Lincoln Elementary under teacher Patti Hinrichs. Goal: To provide for American Ninja Warrior-type obstacles to enhance the physical education program.

• Sphero EDU, $3,600, for 1,000 students in grades 6-8 at Discovery Middle School, under teacher Lukas Gotto. Goal: To provide additional Sphero robots for the Makerspace lab.

• Snap Circuits in Science, $1,500, for 180 students in grades 4-5 at Woodland Elementary under teacher Barb Walswick. Goal: Support student engagement and increase learning of electricity and circuits.

• Learning with Legos, $1,320, for 20-35 special education students in grades K-3 at Voyager Elementary, under teachers Maari Ost and Kayla Bous. Goal: To purchase Lego manipulatives along with a Lego table and wall, creating a hands-on learning atmosphere to enhance learning and creativity.

• Learning Beyond the Screen!, $1,288, for 149 students in grades K-5 at Miltona Magnet Elementary under teacher Chad Gilbertson. Goal: Support the interactive element that Osmo gaming systems offers and add opportunities for students to practice essential math and coding skills to increase problem-solving.

• Seesaw, $1,268, for 25 kindergarten students at Carlos Elementary under teacher Kristen Schmidt. Goal: For students to orally share their learning with both of their parents through an online portfolio.

• Breakout EDU kits, $625, for 100 third graders at Voyager Elementary under teacher Kari Gilbertson. Goal: To purchase Breakout EDU kits to develop problem solving, collaboration and critical thinking skills.

Since 2009, AEF has awarded nearly $300,000 in grants to teachers in Alexandria Public Schools for projects and programs expected to have a meaningful impact on students. This year, 11 of 14 full grant applications were either partially or fully funded.

Funding for the AEF Teacher Grant Program is through donor contributions to the Alexandria Education Foundation. Donations can be made online at, or by mail to AEF, P.O. Box 308, Alexandria, MN 56308.