2016 Award Winners

The Volvo Ocean Race Sailing Adventure

Clare Taylor Neseralla

The Volvo Ocean Race Sailing Adventure integrated math, science, sports, language arts, and international studies. Student captains in a 5th grade classroom created a data tracking website to record the rout of sailboats from Itajai, Brazil to Newport, Rhode Island. Students produced newscasts, solved engineering design problems, and learned about countries and sailors from 17 nations. This high interest project was a blend of STEM, Global Education and Culturally Relevant Pedagogy.

Article Introduction

What is more exciting than being in a sailing race around the world? How about following the race in an elementary school to learn about math, science, sport, language arts, and international studies? The Volvo Sailing Adventure is an engaging, high interest project that integrates STEM concepts in a real-world experience for children. The Volvo Ocean Race is the world’s longest sailing race taking nine months to complete. Sailing teams from around the world compete on a Volvo Ocean 65 one-design sail boat. One-design means that the boats, sails and equipment are identical so the crews’ ability and tactics have more bearing on success in the race. Clare Taylor Neseralla designed this project as part of her STEM certification from the NASA Endeavor STEM Certificate Project with Columbia University Teachers College. Sailing is an international event, providing a context for students to learn about the sailors of multiple nationalities. The all-female crew aboard one boat gained the attention and admiration of male and female students in the school. This team was particularly inspiring to the younger students who did not consider women sailors. Mrs. Neseralla carefully involved different grade levels and parents in the adventure to create a STEM- based community event that the whole school was excited about. The class follows the 6th leg of the around the world race from Brazil to the United States. Mrs. Neseralla and a student were able to travel to Newport to see the racers as they prepared for the next leg of the race. The Volvo Sailing Adventure can be easily duplicated during the next Volvo Race (every three years) and Mrs. Neseralla is happy to help any teacher implement the project in their school.

Note: Photo releases were obtained

Physical Fitness Training Exercises

Andrew Raucci & Mary Beth Schreindorfer

Who said that fitness isn’t fun? Students used to dread the CT Physical Fitness Test, but not anymore! In this collaborative and interactive project, students produce their own “how to” exercise videos. First, students examine the four fitness elements measured in the CT Physical Fitness Test. Next, they research various exercises that would improve performance in the four fitness areas on credible health and fitness websites. Using the information they’ve gathered, students create fitness training cards and instructional videos that demonstrate safe and proper exercise techniques. Finally, students publish their instructional videos for their peers and middle school students to access using QR Code Readers in our school’s fitness center.

Take the Finch Challenge

Jenny Lussier & John Ferrero

The Take the Finch Challenge project brought robotics and library students from two Connecticut schools, a school in Vermont and one in Georgia together for some amazing learning! After receiving 10 Finch robots for two months via the Finch Loan program, students in grades K through 5 took their learning to the next level. Using the SNAP coding language, students learned how to make their Finch robot move, change colors, make sounds and much more. Once they mastered the basics, they began to experiment and create. We saw dances performed, music made and mazes solved. Through the use of collaborative apps such as Flipgrid and Padlet, students shared challenges with students from the various schools and took them on! Learning was shared with the world through participation in EdCamp Global Classroom online conference too! Curiosity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity were instrumental as students problem solved, coded, and never stopped learning!