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USD 207 Sending 40 Educators to ISTE


Several dozen USD 207 Fort Leavenworth educators, staff, and leaders are in Atlanta this week to participate in the International Society for Technology in Education meeting.  The district has been increasingly active in ISTE over the last few years, and this represents the highest level of participation to date.


Liddell Hobin, Director of Technology Services, said, “We’ve sent smaller groups in the past and have been invited to present papers and workshops at the last two ISTE conferences in San Antonio and San Diego. In 2014, we are involved even more broadly and deeply in ISTE, and I think this reflects the districts continuing commitment to delivering the best possible education, with the best possible tools, to our students each day.”


District attendees include Superintendent Keith Mispagel, Deputy Superintendent Geri Parscale, principals from all schools, Special Education administrators, Technology Services staff, and two dozen teachers. “We are really pleased that a wide spectrum of our staff will be active and engaged at ISTE this year,” said Hobin.


“I think everyone will see the engagement of digital tools for student learning at the conference,” said Hobin. “Kids are connected with digital tools today, and I think this experience will open our teachers minds to even more possibilities. It’s not curriculum in the one hand, technology in the other–it’s all one experience now.”


In addition to learning from other workshops and speakers, USD 207 educators have been selected to present two poster sessions highlighting their accomplishments with two CYBER-TEAMS initiatives: The Patton Energy Project and STEAM to TEAMS.


Take charge! The energy challenge

Sunday, June 29, 11:00 am–1:00 pm

GWCC Murphy Ballroom Galleria, Table 3

Digital Age Teaching & Learning

Participate and Share:Poster

Bryan Phillips, Geri Parscale, Kelly Funk, Liddell Hobin, Marilyn McGeorge, Michelle Loeffler, Penny Paradies, Rick Funk, Staci Blount, Tyler Fowler


Gaining STEAM with TEAMS: Innovation through collaboration

Monday, June 30, 10:30 am–12:30 pm

GWCC Murphy Ballroom Galleria, Table 42

Digital Age Teaching & Learning

Participate and Share:Poster

Geri Parscale, Liddell Hobin, Michelle Briggs, Katie, Conn, Anne Hattok,

Melissa Heinen, Tammy Irminger, Michelle Kern, David Kern, Amanda Rhodes

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Patton Energy Project: Building-Wide Challenge-Based Learning

On April 9th, six semi-finalist teams from Patton Junior High School presented their ideas on sustainable energy solutions for USD 207. Three of the junior high teams were selected by faculty and community judges to present their concepts at the district’s three elementary schools as part of the Earth Day celebrations during the week of April 24th. The presentations were the culmination of USD 207’s school-wide STEM energy challenge focusing on the “big idea” of energy.

The Patton Energy Project kicked off on November 22nd, and students worked through early April on their research and presentations. Chris Kase, Patton Junior High Principal, explains, “For the past four months, the students have been meeting in their groups on early release Fridays. This initiative is a true building-wide Challenge-Based Learning program. Rather than go to a scheduled class at that time each Friday, the students devoted their efforts to the energy project.”


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“Support for this idea originated with our teachers,” said Kase. The concept began in the Tech Leaders Academy program – an educational technology ‘camp’ we hold for a week each summer as part of our CYBER-TEAMS program. The teachers were looking for ways to foster more student-lead learning, and the Patton Energy Project is a result of that intention.”

Patton’s teachers polled the students on their energy area of interest, such as solar, biofuels, or geothermal, and grouped the entire school into groups of about five students each. Teams crossed grade level boundaries, with two seventh graders, two eighth graders, and one ninth grader comprising most teams.


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Kase says, “Our goal was to have the students–not the teachers–direct their own learning. We felt strongly about not limiting students to their own grade levels. One very interesting thing we saw was how well the students worked together. Teamwork is a 21st Century Skill, and it was in evidence during the project. In some cases, it was even the younger students, the seventh graders, stepping up and showing leadership in situations. Every student, from every population, had a role.”

Teachers stepped into the role of facilitators and guides during their hands-on time with students on Fridays. “I think this stretched both our staff and our students in positive ways,” says Kase.

The project was graded and the expectations were not open-ended. Student teams created three products; a presentation, a 3D model, and a commercial or persuasive argument for their topic. Patton teachers created a rubric of standards based on Common Core, to satisfy the same skills students would have been covering during usual class time.


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The April 9th judges included Keith Mispagel, Superintendent of Schools, Barry Dicker of Decent Energy, Alan Landever, former Technology Services Director of USD 207, and Patricia Brown, an educator and the spouse of the LTG Robert Brown, the Commanding General at Fort Leavenworth.

The judges selected three winning teams to go on a field trip to the University of Kansas Center for Sustainability in May. Kase and his educator colleagues plan to share more of their lessons learned from the school-wide Challenge-Based Learning experience, having been selected to speak at the 2014 ISTE conference in Atlanta on Sunday, June 29th.




Winning Teams

First Place: Hydroelectric Group Three; Faculty Sponsor: Funk


Samantha Murphy

Timmy Sullivan

Joel Torres

Thomas Poirier

Sarah Wagner

Romina Macapagal


Second Place: Biofuel Group 1; Faculty Sponsor: Klein


Abby Blankenship

Connor Wu

Caitlin Jordan

Mohammed Al Nawhi

Aaron Torster

Brent Carver


Third Place: Solar Energy Group 14; Faculty Sponsor: McGill


Lawson Smead

Tyler Ashwell

Matthew Hauerwas

Megan Weaver

Madison Caggiano

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USD 207 Teachers Share ChromeBooks Pilot Experience at KC TechNet Conference

Published on March 20, 2014 in TEAMS

District educators presented to fellow teachers at the 2014 KC TechNet Conference on February 28th, held in Kansas City, Missouri. TechNet, the Kansas City Metropolitan Educational Technology Network is affiliate of ISTE.

Innovating and Collaborating with Digital Tools: ChromeBooks in the Classroom

Liddell Hobin, Director of Technology Services

Josh Barnes, 5th grade teacher

Celene Pallesen, 7th grade English Language Arts teacher


The USD 207 team began piloting two ChromeBooks projects in the fall of 2013 to use digital tools to foster student collaboration and innovation. The three educators shared how their students use Google Drive and Chromebooks in the classroom.

Josh Barnes presenting at KC TechNet 2014

Barnes and Pallesen demonstrated how students use Google Drive to collaborate with each other and work with teachers.

Google Drive includes online word processing, spreadsheet and other multimedia applications, stored “in the cloud.”

Students can create a document, title it, and immediately share with the teacher and fellow students. Students can easily integrate with drawings, spreadsheets, and other media. Multiple students can collaborate in guided collaborative discussion via Google drive.

Pallesen spoke specifically about how she is using Google Drive and Chromebooks to help students meet the new Kansas Common Core Standards.

She shared one Common Core standard with examples of how her students had demonstrated the skill with presentations and discussions in Google Drive.

R.L.7.9 Compare and contrast a fictional portrayal of a time, place, or character and a historical account of the same period as a means of understanding how authors of fiction use or alter history.  

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Digital Learning February

Dozens of USD 207 students were asked to go to the principal’s office during the month of February and turn in their pencils.  Were they in trouble for some infraction? No, they were participating in Digital Learning Day.

Sponsored by the Alliance for Excellent Education, Digital Learning Day is a national event that encourages educators to explore electronic learning opportunities with students. In the words of the organizers, “Digital Learning Day is about giving every child the opportunity to learn in a robust digital environment everyday, with the goal of success in college and a career.”

The official day of national recognition was February 5th, 2014, but USD 207 celebrated Digital Learning Day throughout the month of February. Liddell Hobin, Director of Technology Services, explained, “With several snow days due to the wintry weather, and our desire to share devices like laptops and iPads for each student across all grade levels in 4 schools, we had activities on multiple days throughout the month.”

The Pledge

USD 207 teachers took a pledge to “support the use of technology to truly improve education.”

Teachers used their particular Digital Learning Day in the classroom to try new lesson ideas that they had developed with Hobin and her team, with an emphasis on digital tools and student-led learning. The teachers avoided the use of worksheets, printouts, and pencils (but not paper books) for the day, in an effort to identify how to digitize lessons and engage students in new learning modes.

Participating students took the pledge to use no paper and no pencils for one day, symbolically “turning in” their pencils to the office in the morning. Students had the chance to immerse themselves in a robust digital learning environment. In addition, they received age appropriate training on good digital citizenship skills.

Hobin points out, “This exercise was about getting teachers and students out of their comfort zone for a day to try new things – it was not about paper and pencil being inherently bad or anything like that. What we found was that the teachers were pleasantly surprised by how liberating the experience was – not a limiting experience at all, as some might have expected.”

“We are already able to use iPad and chromebook carts to share devices, and we look at Digital Learning Day as an opportunity to identify how to make a truly 1:1 student to device ratio in the classroom work effectively for us. We had to spread out the days and rotate and share devices to make this happen, and with some good planning, it all came together nicely.”

“We really challenged the teachers. Every classroom went 1:1 with devices. I think this was an important experience to have. And I received feedback from teachers at end of day that was positive. One grade level team emailed asking if they could try this once a week going forward. They felt that if they had just a few more devices, they could do this all the time. So now we will try to help accommodate!”

At the end of the day, the students retrieved their pencils from the principal’s office and returned to the classroom with a new perspective.

Gretchen Martens, Art teacher

“We did our digital day on Friday. It was a great success! The students loved it!​ Thank you for helping make this happen. It was fun for this ” experienced” teacher to try new things.”

Julia McCubbin,  4th grade teacher

“This is so fun, and so easy! If I can do this, anyone can do it! And, the kids love it!”

Becky Wenzel Pre-K Teacher

“Whoohooooooo…Thank you, thank you, thank you. We fully participated in the Digital Learning Day.”

Elizabeth Hauerwas 5th grade teacher

​”My students and I loved Digital Learning Day!”


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Eisenhower Students’ “Heroes at Home” Video Wins Award

A video produced by Eisenhower Elementary School students has been selected as a winner in the 2013 EducationPlus Show-Me a Movie Awards.

“Heroes at Home: Our School Community” focuses on the challenges that many USD 207 students face with having parents deployed abroad for long periods of time due to their military service. With personal interviews, family photos, and footage of children reuniting with parents, the short video tells the emotional story of this aspect of life through the eyes of a military child.

The contest sponsor, EducationPlus, a non-profit educational service agency based in Saint Louis, Missouri, selected “Heroes at Home” as the winning entrant in the Show-Me Your Community elementary school category for digital storytelling. As the “Show-Me” nickname suggests, entrants usually come from the state of Missouri, especially the St. Louis area. This award marks the first time in contest history that an out-of-state school has placed first in any category.


Over 150 entries were submitted, across all categories, in the 2013 Show-Me a Movie Awards. Award winner names were announced on Wednesday, January 15, 2014. The winning movies were showcased on the EducationPlus SchoolTube channel and were honored at a reception at the 31st annual Midwest Education Technology Conference, February 10-12, 2014 in Saint Louis.


“My dad’s been deployed five times”

“I felt sad because I thought he was going to get hurt”

“Well, it’s kind of bittersweet because I know that he’s gone for a good cause, but it’s still kind of sad because he’s gone.”


Eisenhower Elementary School Counselor, Debbie Sack, and Instructional Technology Coordinator, Matt Dixon, worked with Eisenhower students during 2013 to develop the video.

After receiving the news that their video had won, Sack and Dixon participated in an interview.


How did this project get started?

Sack: Liddell Hobin, our Director of Technology, approached Matt Dixon about the possibility of the Ike Informers participating in this technology contest. Then Matt and I asked the Ike Informers, our student news team if they would like to be involved. All of them were extremely excited about the project. Two of the Ike Informers, Kate Bircher and Sophia Troutman, decided that deployed family members was the topic they wanted to focus on in the project. The team was presented with the idea and wholeheartedly agreed. They asked me if I would choose some students I work with in our Hearts Apart group to be interviewed. I set up the interviews and Mr. Dixon worked with the Ike Informers about the technical aspects of the project. I was very proud of the work the kids did, and how they followed through on each component of each task. I am also impressed with all that Mr. Dixon taught the Ike Informers about technology in order to make the project a success!

What was it like working with the children on the topic of deployment?

Sack: It was an emotional experience. I work closely with the children in my school who have deployed parents, so much of what was said I am familiar with. However, it brought to light, to me personally, how important it is for teachers to be cognizant of what these kids and their families go through during times of deployment. I observed a great deal of sadness, and at the same time, pride that their parent was doing such an important job for America.

How did the students react when they found out they had won?

Dixon: Well, The kids were very excited when they found out we had won. Getting recognized for their work has motivated them even more. We’re very proud of them!

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5th Graders Code For Fun and the Future


Students in Nicki Lindner’s 5th grade class at Bradley Elementary School dove into computer programming in December, participating in the national “Hour of Code.”

 The Hour of Code is an initiative led by code.org, the non-profit dedicated to promoting computer science education, to introduce computer programming to millions of US students.

 In collaboration with partners like Khan Academy, the nationwide campaign called on every K-12 student to try an hour of software coding during Computer Science Education Week, December 9-15, 2013.

 Lindner’s students explored the basics of programming language and how to apply them to creations of their own using their imagination. The fifth graders in Lindner’s class embraced the project, working throughout the week on personally meaningful projects that included greeting cards on Khan Academy, games from code.org which the students were linked to on the district’s Moodle site (Learning Management System), and more.

 Liddell Hobin, USD 207 Technology Services Director, said, “The data show that computer programming careers will continue to grow in the US and worldwide, but there’s a potential shortfall of qualified students, if we don’t course correct. Hour of Code fits perfectly into the long-term development of our students and our CYBER-TEAMS initiative here at USD 207.”

After the Hour of Code program in December, Lindner took a few minutes to share her thoughts.


How did your students react to the Hour of Code project?

 Before the project, the majority of my students were unsure of what it actually meant to code. I do have a couple of boys in my class who would ultimately like to pursue a career in computer programming and they were very excited for the project from the start. We began with Khan Academy’s computer programming lessons and activities and many of the students dove right in. There were a couple holdouts who weren’t quite convinced. However, after they were introduced to the variety of code systems and activities offered through code.org, everyone was soon having a great time.


Were there any surprising moments for you?

 I think the big a-ha moment was the ease with which all of the students were able to create different things. Since completing the National Hour of Code in December, I have already had four new students join my classroom and twice now they have participated in our weekly coding. The new kids have adjusted right in as if they have been working with code all along!

 I was also surprised that everyone found something that they enjoyed creating, be it a holiday card, a moving car, manipulating characters with commands, or the building blocks for an iPad or smartphone game.


Were there any a-ha moments for the students?

 I think the biggest a-ha moments for the students were when they realized that coding isn’t as hard or scary as they thought it was going to be. Many of the students were very excited to share their greeting cards created through Khan Academy. Each time they created something it was a big deal and each student couldn’t wait to share his or her creation with someone…anyone who would listen.


Do you have any plans to do more code projects as a class?

Yes, we continue to code every week. Next, I would like to take it a step further and assign a specific task for small groups that would require being creative using computer programming. However, I have not planned that far ahead quite yet.


Are students coding on their own after the official “hour of code” ended?

Yes, I have a few students that enjoy coding as something they can work on when they finish their class work. Following the National Hour of Code, we as a class decided to commit between 20-60 minutes a week working with code on both Khan Academy and code.org. Code.org has a large variety of activities and formats (i.e. computer and iPad) that as a class we find challenging. Overall I believe that the National Hour of Code was a huge success and continues to provide a challenge and positive outlet for my students.

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2012-2013 CYBER-TEAMS Report Shows Gains in Student Technology Use, Critical Thinking Skills


The USD 207 CYBER-TEAMS project is funded through a competitive grant program awarded by the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA). The project began in FY 2011 and has completed its second year of implementation in school year 2012-2013.

As CYBER-TEAMS enters into its third and final year of supporting technology access and STEM + Art (TEAMS) integration across the district, much has been learned from the previous years of implementation.


Download the full report

Highlights from 2012-2013

  • Students identified an increase in 21st Century Skills being used in the classroom, with collaboration and innovation being the most utilized.
  • Students are interested in all areas of TEAMS (Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, and Science), but continue to be most interested in Technology at this point.
  • Student technology use in the classroom has increased since last year.
  • The use of “Mountaintop Learning Spaces” for student presentations increased by 2.9% during 2012-13
  • Students were observed analyzing or evaluating information 7.6% of the class time, an increase of 5.6% over 2011-12.
  • Faculty presented at 12 external educational conferences.
  • Over 300 hours of professional development workshops were completed on campus at USD 207 in the 2012-2013 school year.
  • 50+ teachers have now completed Tech Leaders Academy – at least one per grade level/subject area in each of four schools.
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Physical Education Department facilitates increased academic and behavioral success through Super Brain Workout Videos!

Shelly Swartz, Physical Education teacher at MacArthur Elementary School identified a need to provide immediate interventions for students with unique academic and behavioral challenges.  Her vision was to have students participate in physical activities that would facilitate neurological brain development.  The idea was that through participation in specific physical activities, the students would become more successful in reaching their academic and behavioral goals.

This was the beginning of the SIA (Sensory Integration Activities) Lab.  The SIA lab is a before-school program where students participate in multi-sensory, cross-lateral, aerobic exercises that require motor planning and visual tracking.  Students participating in the SIA Lab begin their day facilitating neurological brain development through movement.

Soon after the SIA lab began, teachers and parents began to notice remarkable academic and behavioral improvements. Soon a grass roots type movement began. The reading specialist, speech therapist, learning resource specialists as well as some classroom teachers began asking for the workout to utilize throughout the day.

With the success students experienced through participation in the SIA Lab, the district administration saw the value of utilizing the concept district wide at the elementary level.  When Swartz was approached with the concept of taking this program to the district level, it just made sense to utilize the district’s technology for successful daily implementation.

Thus the Super Brain Workout Videos were developed.  In May of 2013 Swartz worked with technology specialists Tyler Fowler and Matt Dixon to produce two workout videos for the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.  In August of 2013, Swartz along with her colleagues Pat Amon from Bradley Elementary and Karen Miller from Eisenhower Elementary rolled out the super brain videos district wide as an academic intervention. The physical education department continues to develop more videos and educate parents as the program evolves.

Now all teachers across the district have access to the Super Brain workouts, whenever needed.

“This puts the power of the program in the hands of every teacher. They use it as an educational intervention at the start of each day.  In addition many of our educational team members use them at the beginning of flex time, before taking assessments, as well as other times throughout the day to enhance learning. Thanks to the technology provided to our district, it’s there on-demand whenever the educational team members need it. All three elementary schools are using the Super Brain workouts as an intervention to improve learning outcomes daily. This is really a district-wide intervention.”

One of the most exciting aspects of using technology to implement these workouts is the availability for parents to utilize the workouts at home.  Parents are using these workouts to help their children complete homework more efficiently.   “It really empowers parents to become an integral part of our educational team.”






Swartz explains the 3 pillars of Super Brain Workouts:

1.  Aerobic Exercise:  Research shows that aerobic exercise influences learning directly at the cellular level by increasing the brain’s ability to log and process information.  This occurs because aerobic exercise increases the level of Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the Hippocampus which is one of the primary proteins that facilitates learning.  Exercise also increases the production of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. These neurotransmitters act as regulators, balancing our systems to better attend and retain information.

2.  Sensory Integration:  Swartz says that all external stimuli enter into the prefrontal cortex and is received and integrated through our sensory neurons.  When our neurological response to sensory input is effective our brains begin to process in a well-organized, integrated manner allowing the students to better focus, behave appropriately and learn effectively.

Sensory integration activities promote communication between sensory neurons located in the prefrontal cortex, the left and right hemisphere and the motor cortex. With repetition, these neurons will build stronger connections and begin to communicate more efficiently which allows the prefrontal cortex to integrate sensory input more efficiently.

3. Cross Lateral Movement:  There are a number of reasons that one side of the brain processes at a faster rate of speed than the other.  Many times genes simply stay dormant and because they aren’t active, the neurons don’t express themselves.  When the differences between both hemispheres become too great, the communication breaks down and the weaker side gets tuned out.

Cross-lateral movement activities force both hemispheres to work together at the same time and connect neurons so they can communicate efficiently.  This allows students the ability to process information more efficiently, as well as improving visual tracking which leads to enhanced learning.

Success stories keep Swartz and her colleagues moving forward.  “I’ve seen the benefits that stems from consistent participation in this program which motivates me to help as many people as I can understand the body brain connection.”

Swartz is eager to continue collecting data on the effects of the program. In addition, plans are in the works to do a study to examine the benefits of the Super Brain workout when utilized throughout the day.

For now, kids at USD 207 continue to enjoy their daily workouts with the knowledge that they are developing a lot more than their muscles!



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USD 207 Educators Selected to Present Two Poster Sessions at ISTE 2014



Teachers and staff from USD 207 have been selected to present two sessions at the International Society for Technology in Education 2014 Conference, held in Atlanta this summer. The annual ISTE conference brings together over 18,000 educators from around the world to explore the topics of technology and education.

The sessions are:

Take Charge! The Energy Challenge
Sunday, June 29, 11:00am – 1:00 pm

Visit with classroom teachers about student-centered, engaging lessons and activities from a district-wide STEM energy challenge focusing on the “big idea” of energy.

Gaining STEAM with TEAMS: Innovation through Collaboration
Monday, June 30, 10:30am – 12:30 pm

Explore classroom projects integrating Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math and Science. Discover how the CYBER-TEAMS Project has transformed learning environments and curriculum in this district-wide implementation.

USD 207 has had a consistent and growing presence at ISTE. 2014 represents the third consecutive year that the district will be presenting at the conference.

“We’re pleased to be selected to share our ideas from USD 207 at ISTE,” said Liddell Hobin, Director of Technology Services. “It’s a wonderful forum for teachers from around the world to come together and explore.”

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Patton Energy Challenge Kicks Off

Patton Sustainable Energy Challenge
Keith Mispagel, USD 207 Superintendent, has challenged Patton Junior High School students and staff to develop solutions to help meet the school’s future energy needs in a sustainable manner. Students will meet in groups weekly through March, when the project will culminate in presentations to a panel of judges from USD 207. Winning groups will be recognized and asked to present to the three district elementary schools as part of Earth Day celebrations in April.

On Friday, November 22nd, students reported to their groups for the first time to begin work on the challenge. Groups can be composed of students from various grades, allowing for cross-grade level collaboration.

Each student team will be asked to present the results of their work with three modes: a live presentation, a three dimensional model, and a third example of their choice, such as an exhibit, persuasive essay, marketing commercial, user manual, and so forth.

The energy project is consistent with USD 207’s commitment to CYBER-TEAMS and the Common Core initiative. Students will be expected to take the lead of their teams and projects, rather than simply follow a teacher-lead curriculum. Teachers will act as guides, helping facilitate the group learning in a way that meets standards.

Students will be asked to make connections with TEAMS (Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math and Science) concepts as they plan, research, develop, refine, and share their ideas with others.

“I like how we were free to discuss and move along at our own pace, without being influenced by the other groups. Deciding what to do was pretty easy. In the first hour we had already decided what our model was going to look like.”

“I liked how we came together with other grades to do this project.”

“It was a cool experience and it opened us up to new leadership roles. It took a long time to draw things together.”

Student Leadership

Patton students expressed their excitement about the freedom and responsibility they’re being given for the Energy Project.

“I like how we were free to discuss and move along at our own pace, without being influenced by the other groups. Deciding what to do was pretty easy. In the first hour we had already decided what our model was going to look like.”

“I liked how we came together with other grades to do this project.”

“It was a cool experience and it opened us up to new leadership roles. It took a long time to draw things together.”


Next Steps

Keith Mispagel, Superintendent of Schools, said, “The premise of this challenge is two-fold. First, I would like students to utilize a variety of resources, including their imaginations, to pursue solutions to decreasing energy consumption, sustaining energy conservation, and creating new ways for energy efficiency. Second, this challenge is designed to be student driven and staff guided. The students are the researchers, builders, creators, and “drivers” in this challenge. With this in mind, student initiative and engagement should be at the forefront.”

December 6th will be the last day before winter break for students to work on the project. In January and February, Students will continue to meet all day as Energy Project groups from 7:45 – 1:00 p.m. on Early Release Fridays.

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