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50 — Student projects and DonorsChoose.

2015-12-13. By Kelly.

Fig. 1. Sphero 2 that one group of students want to use to teach out physics.

After I told our MakerSpace club that student lead projects would automatically get half their funding through DonorsChoose, the students have been busy developing projects and writing grants. One group has decided to make a drone that runs on a Raspberry Pi. Another group has been developing a project that will use maze activities to teach out physics using Spheros. It has been a crazy and wonderful time. I have two half written grants that are hanging in the air. The Drone group has a material list that they need to compile and the Sphero group has physics activities that need to be completed. These students are in the eighth grade and are taking the lead on a project for the first time. This means these students are designing a project plan and implementing the plan when they get funded.

Each group of students quickly developed their project ideas. But they need to write explanations for reviewers. Writing explanations for how they will implement their plan has been the more challenging part of their grant writing process. These students have struggled with several questions such as: Is this project good enough? Will people fund us? And what else can we do with our drone or Spheros?

The commitment to complete their projects has been impressive. In fact, if a partner cannot make it to the MakerSpase Club, these students have set up other times to meet with me and discuss ideas for improving their project. My goals through this process is to support students' ideas without taking over. I coach the students through areas that I think will be more problematic and help them find possible solutions. For example, which companies should they order parts from for the drone and how should they teach about simple machines and forces using a Sphero.

The process is slower than if I had just wrote the grant myself. However, the student work and perseverance on each of these projects has gone beyond my expectations.

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