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UCS Media Center teachers are ambassadors for innovation
UCS Media Center teachers are ambassadors for innovation
Posted on 07/10/2019
Students programming using the makerspaceThe future leaders of science and technology are already in UCS elementary schools – they just need  a little space. 

Five UCS Media Center teachers are involved in providing that space after being selected to participate in a statewide group of educators that to create “Makerspaces,” where students are encouraged to explore and develop a love of everything Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics – or STEAM. 

Helena Foust-Mantel, of Burr Elementary, Mike DeLorenzo, of Morgan Elementary, and Michelle Rizzo, of Ebeling Elementary are among 79 Michigan educators selected this year as Classroom Maker Ambassadors through the Regional Educational Media Center Association of Michigan.

Courtney Conley, of Crissman Elementary and Jacqueline Zawierucha, of Beacon Tree Elementary School, were ambassadors last year and will to be part of the training to expand the current Makerspaces in their media centers. 

“These educators are ‘boots on the ground’ -- working daily to enrich the lives of Michigan students in classrooms across our state,” said John Phillips, Educational Technology Consultant at Berrien RESA and a Project Manager with the REMC Classroom Makers program. “We hope their stories will inspire others around them to try the Maker philosophy with their students.”

A Makerspace is a hands-on, creative place where students can design, experiment, build and invent as they deeply engage in science, technology, engineering, art and math.

“Our Media Center instruction will continue to expand and grow through this opportunity,” Rizzo said. “We will be able to incorporate more opportunities for our students to play, create, learn, mentor and invent as a result of their experiences.” 
 
As Classroom Maker Ambassadors, teachers participate in a wide-ranging variety of professional development events focused on Maker-style learning such as Engineering, 3D Printing, Coding, Digital Creation, Connecting Makers to Assistive Technology and other relevant topics. They also can select up to $400 of Maker-related materials to enhance their maker classroom through REMC SAVE.

“I believe our role as an Ambassador is to continue the dialogue and share the experiences and opportunities that Maker Space allows,” said DeLorenzo.  “Being engaged in the Marker Space concepts and different activities will better serve the students of Utica Community Schools through worldly applications.  We are putting the power of communication, keys of success and technology in the hands of the future generation.”

The UCS teachers will be attending the Maker Summit in Midland this month in addition to other professional development seminars in the first months of the new school year. 

Foust is also participating for the second year in Maker Educator Collective Bootcamp at Indiana State University this summer. She said her students have been working in weekly stations.  

“The Makerspace mindset for me has been about creation” she said. We’ve taken some of our Code.org lessons and expanded them to create more hands-on learning.”