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Student-Led Projects Inspire

UPDATE: As of November 6, 2018, collaborating with your students on a DonorsChoose.org project is easier than ever! You no longer need to select “student-led project” before you submit your project. You can simply create the project like you would any other. Here’s everything you need to know about teaming up with your students to get funding for your classroom ideas!
What’s better than getting a DonorsChoose.org project funded? When your students collaborate with you on the process from start to finish!
Ever since our student-led project initiative came to life, we’ve been floored by the creative ideas generated by students across the country, who are using the opportunity to deepen learning, enhance existing curriculum, lead their peers, and give back to their communities.  
 
Pass It Forward
Soccer balls. Goals. Scrimmage vests. Sounds like a straightforward equipment request for the school soccer team.
However, three students and a teacher in Oklahoma have something entirely different up their sleeves.
Mr. Ross, of Northwest Classen High School, and three of the athletes he supervises submitted a project for soccer gear with the aim of running a camp for elementary students in their area. 
“Junior, Michael, and Alex will get more out of this project than I think they know,” explains Mr. Ross. “By working together on the project they are learning teamwork. By being the ones responsible for the organizing of the camp they are learning accountability. Also, by supervising the other high school boys they are learning a key skill in leadership. This project will instill character traits that will be useful to them for life.”
The students describe their intentions best: “The community has helped us in a variety of ways, so we want to give back to the community.” 
Coding for the Future
“Code powers our digital world. Every website, smartphone app, computer program, calculator, and even microwave relies on it to operate. This makes coders the architects and builders of the digital age.”
No, that’s not a Bill Gates quote. It’s from the essay composed by Joel, Joshua, and Jesus—three high schoolers from Texas—as part of their project, The Instruction of Programming.
The students, with the help of teacher Mr. Garza, submitted a project for a tablet and two programmable robots—aptly named Dash and Dot. The kids will apply all they have learned about coding to program the robots to move, interact with sounds, and even run mazes. They will then present their findings to the entire student body at Juarez-Lincoln High School.
Deepening understanding with task-based learning and sharing the exciting possibilities of coding with an entire school are plenty of inspiration for one project. However, with the acquisition of Dash and Dot, Mr. Garza also has his students’ futures in mind as well.
The robots, he explains, will help the students use coding to problem-solve, which is a skill they can use in any job. And, if they end up in the field of computer science, there are real opportunities available to them. He continues: “Over 44,000 jobs are open in this field and under 2,000 [students] graduate with a Computer Science degree in Texas (according to Code.org). That is, less than 5% of Computer Science jobs have the potential of being filled.”
Mr. Garza and his students are doing their part to change that.

Small Business, Big Dreams
Mrs. Barrentine, of Raymond High School in Mississippi, was already helping students in her finance class learn to budget with a virtual classroom economy. Now, she and seven of her students are taking that practical experience to a new level with their project, Making It Our Business.
“This year at RHS, we are working to boost morale among students and faculty,” Mrs. Barrentine explains. “Our class is a small, close-knit group, so we decided that it would be a cool idea to create logo stickers for students and faculty to place on their vehicles.”
They submitted a project for vinyl and a Silhouette cutting machine to make the decals. Students will learn a new trade, gain experience running a business, and help their community come together.  
“This project will help improve school unity between our faculty, parents, and students,” write the young entrepreneurs. “We want to encourage the community to support our school. We have big dreams. This is only the beginning.” 
 

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