Building the future: A PAFE grant in action

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—Courtesy photo Students are learning real-world engineering skills at Southside. Here, students are hard at work on a prototype of an artificial knee.

COCOLALLA — Southside Elementary School’s fourth-grade teacher Emily Norton is enthusiastic about the results of her Panhandle Alliance for Education grant, Building Our Future… Engineering in Education.

“This program has provided not only a real world view of how different technologies in our world work but has also given us hands-on applications that make engineering come alive for our students,” she said.

The PAFE grant paid for EiE teacher manuals and student readers for the 2015-2016 school year. The manuals contain curriculum for a variety of lessons and the readers help students gain a deeper understanding of how engineering is found in real life scenarios.

Over the past year, students in all grade levels at Southside have participated in two engineering projects, one in the fall/winter and the other this spring. The projects varied depending on the grade level. For example, second-graders learned about bridges in the fall/winter and were able to incorporate the EiE curriculum called “Balance and Forces” into their learning.

“We have seen our students become fully engaged in their learning with the EiE lessons,” Norton added. “The program encourages students to collaborate, discuss and write knowledgeably about topics such as bio- medical, industrial, civil, agricultural, materials and other types of engineering. It’s amazing how deep an understanding of complex topics elementary school students can develop when they’re using a really good program.”

The Panhandle Alliance for Education is a non-profit organization composed of local citizens, businesses, and educators. Its mission is to promote excellence in education and broad-based community support for the Lake Pend Oreille School District. Donations are distributed as a working pool of money used to fund classroom teacher grants; READY! For Kindergarten, an early childhood literacy education program for parents of children from birth to age five; a district-wide writing program; and other strategic programs. To participate in the recurring giving program, or to make a one-time donation, please go to the website, www.panhandlealliance.org and click on “donate.” To learn more about the Panhandle Alliance for Education, please visit our website at www.panhandlealliance.org or call Executive Director Marcia Wilson at 208-263-7040.

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