Dear Mars Planet Foundation,
My students and I would like to thank you for sponsoring the purchase of the Giant Mars and Moon Maps. While this year is just the beginning, we are thrilled to have them in our school. They bring learning to life as we combine our knowledge from different subject areas in new and exciting ways. While we learn about the Moon and Mars by using these maps, we also apply the same map skills we use when we learn about our own world! Having maps as big as our classroom transports us away from Earth during class time so we feel excited and engaged in our lessons. When we first began using the maps this year, we participated in a couple different learning activities. Second and third grade students created stop-motion animation films to demonstrate an action verb that would take place on either the Moon or Mars. The topography of the maps became the setting and inspiration for the animations. Several groups even figured out that they could slow down their animations to create actions that appeared to have less of a gravitational pull. Characters were animated to show actions that ranged from throwing a football in a moon crater to erupting out of the largest volcano in the solar system on Mars. Fourth graders used the maps to imagine and simulate inventions that would allow humans to survive in space. Students analyzed the topography at various locations, and then they created robotic devices to solve their specific problems. Their ideas ranged from rotating mobile gardens to moon rock collecting buggies, even to humanoid robots searching for life forms. The maps made this task seem like an official NASA mission, and students developed a special curiosity about space after being immersed in this learning activity. Our local Mars Robotics Association had the opportunity to use these maps for a special robotics challenge. They created a game that members of the community could play while they attended the Mars Exploration Celebration (Mars New Year) in the summer. They spread “Perseverance Rover Samples” around the planet Mars, and the mission was to drive robots around to collect the samples to bring back to Earth. There are infinite ways to use these maps in the future. We have enjoyed creating our own ideas, but there is also a plethora of lesson plan ideas on the Aldrin Family Foundation website. We have books, robots, and small augmented reality models that complement the maps for continued excitement and learning, and all of those items came with the maps. With two different sizes of the maps, it makes it nice for sharing in various-sized spaces. We have invited members of the community and other schools to see lessons in action and try them in their own environments. It is really cool that our students “on Mars” can help to inspire the love of space in our entire region (and beyond)!
Eighth grade students will have the opportunity to build robots with many sensors and compete in VEX IQ Design Challenges. Students will compete in two challenges as a cross-curricular class project between the Technology Education and Programming classes. The VEX IQ robotics kits will be used to design solutions to real world problems from stacking to collecting hazardous materials.
The total grant request for one VEX IQ Classroom bundle, two VEX IQ Field Cases, and two arenas is $5,008.94
The board voted to fully fund this grant request of $5,008.94 through EITC funds
Dr. McMahon shared a proposal submitted by Lindsay Rosswog for the National Blue Ribbon School Banners that would be available for purchase to display this recent award. The grant application included pricing for three banners: 10x30 banner-$1200, 2x8 banner-$40, and fence banner: $290, Display Case - $4,857.14, and Teacher Gifts: $1000. The total grant application was in the amount of $7,387.14
The board voted to partially fund this grant in the amount of $2,530 for the (3) banners and teacher gifts
Mrs. Hinrichsen presented a grant request for two (2) IPEVO Document Cameras to showcase STEAM hands on work. These cameras can attached to computers and display creations on the Promethium board rather than gathering around to view.
The board approved three (3) cameras for each Elementary Building in the amount of $300. In addition, Mrs. Hinrichsen has $1000 funds available for her All-Star Teacher Award from The Pittsburgh Pirates.
Dr. McMahon presented a video and grant request for BAL A VIS X which stands for Balance, Auditory, and Vision Exercise. This program offers Brain and Body Integration along with team building skills to be taught in PE class. The results of BAL A VIS X have shown students to be more focused in the classrooms. The grant request included 3 DVD's for training plus bulk of balls and sand bags in the amount of $1,200.00
The board approved BAL A VIS X Grant Request for $1,200.00
Melinda Badger, 6th grade Math and Science teacher, sought a grant to purchase four (4) additional white board tables in the amount of $878.00. Ms. Badger had already purchased a table on her own and she also used various contact papers to offer white board surfaces to students which did not last long. The white board tables offer group interaction among students of all learning levels along with peer interaction.
The board voted to fully fund the grant request of $878.00
Dr. McMahon presented a grant request on behalf of the Mars Primary Center for We Both Read Book Sets in the amount of $700.00, which includes two complete sets of leveled books. The books are designed for the Lending Library and encourage parents to read along with their students.
The Mars Planet Foundation was proud to donate the Senior signs to all Mars Area HS 2020 and 2021 Graduates.