Teach For America teachers are expanding opportunities with help from State Farm® Teacher Assist
Assists for Underserved Classrooms
Hotspots and tablets to access college-level chemistry materials. Interactive STEM kits that jump-start creativity and invention. 3D printers to add dimension to science lessons. Green Ninja PocketLab sensors that demonstrate real-time climate impact. Technology to boost high school students’ ability to create statistical visualizations and analysis.
State Farm Teacher Assist grants are helping Teach For America (TFA) educators bring these items and programs into their underserved classrooms. TFA “corps members” commit to teach two years in a low income community. Their drive to make a difference for their students and the communities have a lasting impact.
Before joining TFA, only one in five Corps members plan to become teachers. Only 10 percent are education majors. Through the Corps experience they come face-to-face with the challenges confronting schools. It instills in them a lifelong commitment to working on behalf of their students. Today, 85 percent of TFA alumni report they are working in education or careers serving low-income communities.
State Farm also recognizes the challenges facing education. That’s why, since 2009, we’ve teamed up with Teach For America. State Farm grant funds support TFA’s force for change and fuel educational progress from the ground up.
It’s also why we started Teacher Assist. Earlier this year, 200 teachers in five states received $2,500 grants through the program. That’s $500,000 to support teachers in this trying year.
Learn more about the Teacher Assist projects funded in these Teach for America classrooms:
Astrid Vargas (Northwestern Senior High School - Miami, Florida)
Astrid's AP Chemistry students lacked the technology needed to consistently access the college-level STEM instruction materials they need to succeed. Some were even trying to complete their advanced lessons on their phones.
The tablets Astrid purchased with her grant will help them better prepare for their upcoming advanced exams. It’s not the first time she’s secured additional resources to assist the students at her school.
“Grant writing is hobby of mine,” Astrid said. “I do DonorsChoose a lot. And I’ve also secured money and scholarships from other sources. I’m grateful and blessed that I’ve been able to secure $20,000 that’s been allocated to student needs this year.”
Andrew Loh (Uplift Heights Prep - Dallas, Texas)
In a school year lacking in hands-on experiences, Andrew's grant is focused on giving his middle school students just that. He's bringing STEM principles to life with 3D printing. Scholars are gaining confidence and leaning into their curiosity to become creators and designers.
They have begun drafting their creative ideas into Tinkercad. The software allows them to manipulate shapes in a 3D space and then manifest their imaginations into tangible objects. In the next few weeks, scholars will have full-fledged designs that are ready to hit the 3D printers. They'll be able to test and assess their design practices and see how their efforts are made a reality before their eyes.
"These young learners are also coming to terms with the nature of trial-and-error, reflection and asset-based mindsets to persevere through challenges," Andrew said. "It's helped their imaginations come to life. Students who were previously overwhelmed by STEM have found joy and excitement in the opportunity offered by this new activity."
Hannah Sun (John F. Kennedy Middle School - Cupertino, California)
Hannah's winning entry will make climate change come alive through project-based learning. She's using her grant to purchase curriculum materials that use climate and environmental topics as a lens for teaching science.
"The Green Ninja Program comes with carefully curated lessons and PocketLab devices. This allows students to gather and analyze real-time data," Hannah said. "Instead of just reading about how carbon emissions contribute to climate change, students will actually be able to measure carbon dioxide levels, ozone and particulate matter in the atmosphere!
"Through this learning experience, students develop agency to become climate science experts. They will figure out how they can make a difference in their community and the world beyond," she said.
Ebony McCaskill (Technology Academy High School - Downey, California)
Over the summer, Ebony will be purchasing technology needed to boost her students’ ability to create statistical visualizations and analysis. This will provide more math class options, and opportunity to explore another math discipline.
“Stats is a subject that is expanding as technology jobs and careers are increasing,” Ebony said. “Our students will be able to get more access to that knowledge."
Despite this challenging year, Ebony saw her students increase their digital literacy and better advocate for themselves.
“It has been awesome seeing my students still excel while taking care of their siblings, having jobs and struggling with connectivity issues,” she said.
“As a teacher, virtual learning has pushed my bounds of creativity in class. The Teacher Assist grant has inspired me to embrace creativity and in-depth understanding in a math classroom.”
Jun Cai (Unity Middle School - Oakland, California)
3D printers purchased with Jun’s grant will add dimension to his science lessons next year.
“The critical thinking and design process involved in creating 3D works will help our students think outside of the box and also apply their STEM lessons. The Tinkercad 3D design platform will allow them to design on their own at home during virtual learning."
3D printing exercises will be incorporated into the curriculum across all the grade levels. For example, sixth grade science could create insects and animals as part of their life system unit. Seventh-graders might design tectonically-sounded buildings as part of their natural hazards unit. In eighth grade, they might design race karts for their physics unit on forces and motion.
“Science is about exposing students to new and innovative ways of learning,” Jun said. “Introducing them to 3D printing will be an exciting way for our students to learn many essential science and engineering skills.”
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