Innovation in the state of Arizona is not an entirely new thing. Arizona State University has been at the top of the list of U.S. News and World Report’s Most Innovative Schools for every year that it has been a category. One crowning achievement is the school's Smart Campus initiative, which just snagged an award for game day technology at its football stadium. It only makes sense that this excellence would trickle down into the state’s K–12 schools.
One grant program, which has benefited teachers in Arizona, took this a step further by asking educators to outline a clear plan for how they intend to use technology in their classrooms to create an innovative experience that equips students with the skills they’ll need to succeed in college and beyond.
From adopting technology like 3D printing to fostering partnerships with communities and ASU, K–12 schools in Arizona are using a variety of means to integrate technology and prepare students for the future.
1. Revamping Classroom Space with Projectors Boosts Engagement
Thanks to the latest in technology, using a projector in the classroom hardly means that students need to sit at their desks and look straight ahead. New tools, like those from Epson, let educators project almost anywhere, and apps synced with the devices let everyone participate in the classroom collaboration.
This boost in collaboration is what Taft Elementary School in Mesa, Ariz., was looking for when they were awarded a grant to add ceiling mount projectors to classrooms. KTAR News reports that teachers have used the tech to facilitate more interactive learning like quiz games and virtual field trips.
2. 3D Printers Help All Students Get a Leg Up in STEM
It’s no secret that science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills are in high demand from today’s students and workers. For students at Xavier College Preparatory in Phoenix, a new 3D printing course can serve as an introduction for the engineering design process.
“I hope that [students] will get a stronger sense of their use of creative and critical thinking,” teacher Nathan Ward tells Xavier’s student news site.
KTAR News reports that Ward also plans to use 3D printing to teach students about an innovative new science: medical engineering. Students will eventually learn how to prototype and build things like prosthetics and cochlear implants.
3. Partnerships Get Students Future-Ready
Partnerships within the community also help K–12 students build the skills and experience necessary to be ready for the future.
With ASU nearby, students in the area are privy to unique opportunities. One such partnership, called the Spark App League, brings together the expertise of ASU and Google, as well as leadership from Gilbert, Ariz., to teach students to code and design applications that help their city flourish, reports Getting Smart.
In the Phoenix East Valley community, civic offices, businesses and education institutions join together through the East Valley Partnership to use technology to help students pursue a personalized degree. Getting Smart reports that one such focus is a rigorous program in Queen Creek that helps students explore their college and career paths as early as kindergarten.