Friday, September 23, 2016

Innovations Worth the Writing of a Grant:

Have you ever written a grant for your job or supplies? As educators, if we want to implement pricey innovations, we first need ways to fund our ideas. 

This is a challenge. Many times teachers spend their own money on classroom items. When the new technology innovations cost more than the usual $1 or $2, our personal budgets don't exactly allow room for such expenditures. 

I've been contemplating items that would be worth the extensive work necessary to earn a grant. I work for the Waterloo Community School District, every year the Waterloo Community Schools Foundation elects innovative projects to provide financial backing for. 

This is my fourth year working for this district. I'm ready to challenge myself with the writing of this grant. (I'll save the advice about how to write an excellent grant for later!)

This new product geared specifically toward young students feels worthy of the work of grant writing:

Video Created by: Primo Toys
Can be found on:

This new product is called Cubetto by Primo Toys. I've been searching through blog postings to find more information and personal experiences regarding this product. 

I love how Nicholas Keith describes the Cubetto experience on his blog,
"Suddenly, a wooden cube with an inviting smiley face on the front starts to move forward. After several squares of forward motion, he takes a quick right, then a left, and stops at his final destination, a rug square with a picture of a house on it. The kids clap and squeal, then dump the blocks out so they can try a different path."
Nicholas goes on to explain the benefits Cubetto would bring to young children as well as the screen-free method of teaching basic programming concepts. It's much easier to write a grant for an idea like this in the preschool classroom as many feel young children already have too much screen time in their day. The screen-free aspect of Cubetto is a huge factor in why I keep going back to Cubetto after looking at other similar products.

Cubetto is additionally an innovative product because they worked with a 3D printing and design company to begin redesigning the original pieces. I like this aspect of Cubetto because 3D printing is a newer technology which is currently being used in so many professions. After introducing Cubetto, I could bring in to students this idea that students can design something and it would be printable. What a great way to teach about 3D shapes and objects! The company Cubetto worked with is Materialise and Natalie Simpson posted about working with Cubetto on their blog
My favorite quote from this blog posting is:
"When Primo came to Materialise they had already identified 3D Printing as the ideal manufacturing method for the first 650 runs of the Cubetto Playset. What they went on to discover was the value you can realize when a product is designed specifically for 3D Printing."

My final reading on this product for this post (it certainty won't be the last as I begin the grant writing process) is a posting by Jacqui Murray in the  "Ask a Tech Teacher Blog". One of the most challenging aspects of writing a winning grant is the inclusion of objectives and learning goals that will be met through the project you submit. As fun as this technology may be, I will not win a grant because I found a cool technological product. Jacqui Murray's comments give some ideas for me to springboard off of for this part of the grant writing process.
"All this time, the child thinks s/he is playing a game when what they’re really doing is learning problem-solving, critical thinking, about a programming ‘queue’, the importance of order, the appeal of cause and effect, how to follow multi-step directions, and how to be critical thinkers. Who would think four year olds were ready for that many higher order thinking skills?"

As an early childhood educator, I'm constantly advocating for keeping play-based experiences as part of the preschool and kindergarten classrooms. This robot touches on many cognitive learning experiences while masquerading as play. This is one of my favorite aspects of teaching young children! 

I'm very excited about the chance to finally write an Innovative Learning Grant! I'm intrigued as to how my students will respond if we are able to acquire something so unique as Cubetto to add to our classroom. I envision tying in concepts such as pattern recognition, making predictions, 3D printing information, and more!

Thanks for reading! Peters out!