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One Student’s Testimony About How One Edfund Grant To The Hamilton-Wenham Schools Changed Him

Senior, Chris Davekos, the most prolific 3D printer in the school.

Senior, Chris Davekos, the most prolific 3D Printer user in the school.

As many of you know, the Edfund granted a 3D Printer Lab to the Hamilton-Wenham High School last year. Since then there have been all kinds of objects printed by students. From chess pieces to plant holders to key chains to pretty much everything in-between.

Those creations were great and we posted many of them on our Facebook page.

But we wanted to go a level deeper to really understand how the 3D Printer Lab has affected our students. And we decided the best way to do that was to find the most prolific 3D Printer user in the school and ask him.

Enter, senior Chris Davekos, the most prolific 3D Printer user in the school.

We got Chris’ name from high school math teacher and Edfund Board Member, Joe Maher. Though a math teacher, Mr. Maher was quite aware of Chris’ interest in 3D Printing. We contacted Chris and got more than we expected. Much more.

“At first I had no knowledge of 3D printing at all.”

For Chris, the idea of 3D printing was entirely new. One day Mr. Walsh, his Fab/Tech teacher (and the teacher who requested the grant along with Mr. Shippen), excitedly announced to the class that his grant proposal for a 3D Printer Lab had been approved by the HW Edfund.

Chris thought it sounded pretty cool. Then the printers arrived.

Human skull.

Human skull.

“I watched tutorials on YouTube.”

Chris was so inspired by the possibilities that a 3D printer presented to him that he started spending his personal time figuring the technology out. He went on YouTube and watched video tutorials. He downloaded and taught himself how to use a software program, TinkerCAD, that to Chris was better and easier than the program that came with the printers. He found web sites where files of CAD (computer assisted design) drawings could be downloaded, manipulated, and then printed.

He got really good at it.

T-Rex skull.

T-Rex skull.

So good his friends would send him their own files for Chris to print. So good his Dad went out and bought him a 3D printer for Christmas to use at home. So good Mr. Walsh asked Chris to become an official “Assistant” in the 3D Printer Lab.

Chris was designing and printing amazing things. His friend’s Jeep had a couple climate-control knobs missing, so Chris designed and printed new ones that fit and worked perfectly. He and his Dad designed a glow-in-the-dark 3D pillbox so the pills could be more easily found at night. He created a UV light sponge cleaner, a custom smartphone case, a shift knob for the manual shift in a car, A Tyrannosaurus Rex skull, a human skull, and a human bone printed to scale (Chris thinks it was a femur) and that he gave to his anatomy teacher.

Rose in vase.

Rose in vase.

“It completely changed the way I look at the future.”

Chris was empowered by this new technology saying that it opened doors for him. He plans to be a teacher himself one day and says he’ll always have a 3D printer “around somewhere” in his life.

I then asked Chris what he would say to those who donate money every year to the Edfund and who make grants like the 3D Printer Lab possible, were he able to look them all in the eye at one time. This was his response:

I would thank the Edfund for the grant they gave to the high school for the 3D printing Lab. Not only was my senior year impacted by the 3D printers, but my entire outlook on technology and innovation was impacted. Seeing this technology in action is an amazing sight. Having the opportunity to work with the printers and learn about them is something that I greatly appreciate and know many students down the road will appreciate too. They even inspired me to get my own 3D printer, which I will be taking to college.

Advantage granted.

Friends, donors, members of the Edfund Board, this is what we live for. This is what the Hamilton-Wenham Edfund is all about. It’s why we exist. And it’s why our donors donate.

Yes “We grant advantage,” as we like to say at the Edfund. But it’s so much more than that when we see the advantages we grant actually change students in such profound ways. Like the 3D Printer Lab did for Chris Davekos and countless others.

Chris is heading to Salem State next year. We wish you luck, Chris. And do keep us posted on what you print next!

To make a donation to the Hamilton-Wenham Edfund, please click here.

Elementary Schools: Edfund Announces ‘Minute To Win It’ Event Coming In April

Click to expand.

Remember that TV game show way back when called “Minute To Win It”? Even if you don’t, it doesn’t matter because the Hamilton Wenham Edfund is bringing this fun, family-friendly, and hilarious series of unique creative challenges to a gym near you.

On Friday April 10th, to be exact, the Edfund invites all elementary school parents and children (Cutler, Buker, and Winthrop) to the High School Gym for an evening full of ridiculously awesome events for you and your kids to try.

Imagine this…

There’s the “Bit Dicey-dice” event, as shown in this home video (Kid nails it):

Or the classic “Double Trouble” event (Dad nails it):

Or the “Elephant March” (we dare you not to laugh at this clip):

Now, imagine 12 little events like those all over the gym.

It’s going to be a room full of wonderful mayhem, we’re sure. But we’re ready, if you are.

Here are the details:

Where: Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School Gym

When: Friday, April 10 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm (Concessions will be sold – including pizza – bonus! )

Cost: $5 per person at the door

Guarantee: laughter, and lots of it

Challenge your friends and family. Bring your cameras and video recorders (or iPhones), as you will wish you had them otherwise.

The Edfund Board can’t wait to see you and your family there.

Edfund Grants Advantage Through A Flexible Classroom

The Hamilton-Wenham Edfund is pleased to announce an exciting new grant to the Hamilton Wenham High School: $15,000 towards flexible, mobile, and collaborative, furniture for the 21st Century Classroom. A supremely creative idea from Assistant Principal, Bryan Menegoni, that liberates our teachers and students with newfound mobility in the classroom.

The time has come.

Our high school was built in 1962 and was constructed to reflect the very latest in teaching methodology for the time: the lecture format, and everything that goes with it. Teacher stands at the front of the class and does the talking. Students sit in their fixed seats and do not talk, they listen.

Fast-forward through the Beatles, disco, then puffed up hair, on through the grunge era, past the early 2000’s techno, and to today’s Lady Gaga, and times have certainly changed. Education has radically changed, too. It’s less about lectures and memorizing. It’s more about collaboration, working together, and creativity.

Pilot program to bring one classroom into the 21st Century.

The Edfund has granted a pilot program, where one classroom will be outfitted with Verb tables and Node chairs designed to be moved, reconfigured, and otherwise staged to amplify collaboration.

Teachers can now easily configure the classroom to reflect the kind of learning required, on a minute-by-minute basis.

Could put them into a circle for group discussions:Verb-discussion

Or break out into groups for project work:Verb-group-mode

Or lecture format (sometimes a lecture is just what is needed):Verb-lecture-mode

The flexibility these moveable tables and chairs will provide our teachers and students is infinite. No longer must they conform to the oppressive rigidity of the early 1960s.

The furniture is on order and should be installed within the next month or so (and may not look exactly like the pictures above). If the teachers and students respond well to this pilot program, the school will convert more classrooms going forward within their normal operating budget.

As Assistant Principal, Bryan Menegoni put it:

Classroom furniture that is flexible, mobile, and comfortable empowers our teachers and students to transform the environment to suit the needs of the work in which they are engaged. We are excited that our partnership with the Edfund will allow us to pilot the Verb Tables and Node Chairs so that our school and community can learn about the benefits of a responsive, 21st century learning space.

Menegoni’s grant proposal provided the Edfund Board with a very creative “work-around” to the fixed reality of an old high school. We congratulate him for the grant, and you can too on Twitter (@bmenegoni), if you like.

Advantage granted.

We will be sure to report back the feedback from this grant once the school has had some time with it.



The Education Technology Explosion

Dean Tsouvalas, his wife Sarah, and three future Generals.

Dean Tsouvalas, his wife Sarah, and their three future Generals.

Guest post by new Edfund board member, Dean Tsouvalas. His bio is at the bottom of the page, but Dean has been a great help keeping the board aware of the latest in educational trends. We thought it would be useful to share his recent update with all of you, as it’s so rich with insight.

We are witnessing an education technology revolution. In recent years, innovations in education have exploded, supporting more learning styles and creating powerful pathways to true learning. One emerging trend is the ability to harness technology in ways that make abstract topics more relevant to a student’s world.

Recently, I had the opportunity to watch 11 education start-ups share how they are trying to launch businesses to enhance the education landscape. The 2014 Kaplan EdTech Accelerator, powered by Techstars, is the first and largest corporate-sponsored accelerator focused exclusively in edtech. More than 200 education companies applied to be part of this unique program.

Over the course of three months, each of the startups went through an intensive business development program where they received mentorship in tech, education, and business, all with the intent of accelerating their growth. In addition to mentorship, they received investments in capital to help develop and drive their individual companies. Their “graduation day” wasn’t just a ceremonial event, it was an opportunity for them to pitch their ideas to various angel and venture investors in the audience as well as to garner interest from leaders in the education sector.

Each of these companies has the mission of leveraging technology to make education more relevant and accessible to learners of every age.

Story 2 – Bringing the art and science of storytelling to students in the college application process, throughout college, and into the work world. Story2 uses the science of storytelling to unleash students’ writing power during the college application essay process. The team offers both online and in-person workshop classes.

RobotsLAB –Creating award-winning and standards-aligned programs that teach math and science using robots as teaching-aids. These robots help teachers engage students in hard-to-teach math and science subjects by making them tangible and relevant. RobotsLAB has different types of products ranging from a robotic arm for geometry and physics lessons, a quad-copter for algebra lessons and my favorite a basketball “MathBall” for statistics and pre-calculus lessons. Each robotic tool can help develop a deep understanding of math and science concepts using hands-on experience and movement.

reKode – Launching tech centers with proprietary curriculum to spark the interest of kids in the wonders of coding and technology. Why couldn’t this innovative company which already has lesson plans power our tech labs in school?

Tuva Labs – Empowering students of all ages to learn critical data-literacy skills around their favorite topics or desired careers.

Creator BoxDelivering fun projects families build together that inspire kids to learn about topics in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Class Wallet – Platform where parents, teachers, and administrators can support a classroom with peer-to-peer funding and purchasing anything from supplies to technology to field trips. Now parents can put funds into an account and see what the teacher uses to buy items needed for the class.

Lea(R)n – Online platform collecting and quantifying data to improve how schools and districts try, buy, and use education technology, saving them money and time, and avoiding costly mistakes.

Branching Minds Web application identifying students’ learning challenges, matching them with research-backed learning supports, and then tracking and reporting on students’ progress. – Global distribution system aggregating school data and distributing it to global educational travel agencies to better serve students seeking international education experiences.

I encourage you to check these fascinating companies out and then share your favorites with teachers and administrators.

Then let’s see what advantages we can grant our children this year!

Dean Tsouvalas is a parent of three children in the Hamilton-Wenham School system, excited by the explosion of education technology and how it can make a positive impact in our schools. Dean is also a new member of the Edfund Board and dressed up as “Buddy The Elf” at our Halloween Party.

Edfund Halloween Party Starts To Scare Up Donations

sold outTo kick off our appeal for donations, the Hamilton-Wenham Edfund held its annual Halloween Party last week at the Danversport Yacht Club. The event was entirely sold out with two hundred people attending.

Or should we say, the attendees included:

  • James Bond, who looked suspiciously like the “Roger Sterling” character from last year’s party
  • Slash and Axl Rose
  • Hannibal Lecter (he was rolled in on a dolly)
  • Luke Skywalker and Princess Lia (spelling error on purpose)
  • The Solid Gold Dancers
  • Charlie Brown
  • John McEnroe
  • A bunch of Amish folk
  • The Ice Bucket Challenge, personified
  • Cousin Eddie from the movie “Christmas Vacation”
  • Napoleon Dynamite
  • The other Napoleon
  • Elf (two of them)
  • A roller coaster – seriously, the entire Parsons Hill neighborhood designed and built roller coaster seats with fake legs and pretty much stole the show

And many, many more. There was a wonderful energy to this party. Mostly because everyone knew the money we intend to raise will go straight to grants for the Hamilton-Wenham schools. But we suspect also because the costumes were just incredible. No one mailed it in.

With our appeal season officially underway, be on the lookout for a mailer asking you to help support our mission, which is to provide competitive advantages to our schools through carefully vetted grants. Please give what you can so we can “grant advantage” together.

Now, here are some pictures from the second annual Edfund Halloween Party:

If you missed this year’s event, don’t worry. There’s always next year.

But start thinking about your costume now…

Edfund Grants 3D Printing Lab To The High School

Edfund President, Jill Evers, and grant recipients, Jeff Walsh and Tate Shippen

Edfund President, Jill Evers, and grant recipients, Jeff Walsh and Tate Shippen

“If you can dream it, you can print it.”

That’s what Hamilton Wenham Edfund Board Member, Mela Lew, said during board deliberations over a proposed grant for $25,000 covering the purchase of a 3D Printer Lab for the High School. Lew’s quote was the defining moment of the debate. It’s when everyone on the board realized the possibilities this technology could bring to our teachers and students.

3D printing technology is a cutting edge technology that allows the creation of a three-dimensional object of almost any shape through an “additive” process in which successive layers of material (typically plastic) are laid down under computer control. As the possibilities of what can be created through this approach are virtually limitless, the introduction of this technology will allow students to push the limits of their imagination, while gaining experience with one of the newest technologies available today.

Due to the expense of 3D printing systems, Hamilton-Wenham will be one of the first public schools to provide their students with this technology. Hamilton Wenham Regional High School teachers, Tate Shippen, of the Mathematics department, and Jeff Walsh, of the Science & Engineering department, submitted the grant application. And we are so glad they did.

Chess piece and working whistle, both printed in 3D

Chess piece and working whistle, both printed with a 3D printer (click to enlarge)

3D printing applications are cross-curriculum.

In their presentation Walsh and Shippen stressed the synergy of this grant with the district-wide mission of providing “skills needed to be successful members of our global economy and engaged citizens of the 21st Century.” This technology will provide students with the ability to conduct a wide-range of cross-curriculum projects that were previously impossible without this technology.

Specifically, Shippen and Walsh cited immediate applicability to the Math (Geometry), Art, Science (Biology), Technology and Engineering curriculum, although they believe the implementation has the ability to impact many more areas as the deployment continues.

Edfund President, Jill Evers, on the 3D Printing Lab grant:

The mission of the Edfund has always been to grant advantages to students in our district through the offering of programs, tools and technologies that are not only innovative, but that will best prepare them for a rapidly advancing workplace. The power of 3D printing is its limitless potential which sends the message to students that, ‘if they can dream it, they can print it.’ As such, the grant for 3D printing is one that we felt was squarely in line with our mission, and was a grant we were excited to approve.

According to the grant proposal, the intent is to create a mobile 3D printing lab in the High School that will have the ability to take advantage of the various interior and exterior learning spaces of the school and will be accessible to students in both the High School and Middle School.

Are the students excited about 3D printers? Consider this.

The day the grant was approved, Math teacher, Tate Shippen, told one of his Geometry classes about the grant. The next day – the NEXT DAY – one of the students came in with a 3D model of an iPhone case he designed on his iPad and asked, “Where can I print this?” Of course, the 3D Printing Lab hasn’t been built yet, as Mr. Shippen then informed the student. But this student was so excited about the prospects, the night he heard the news he researched, downloaded, and then used an iPad app for 3D modeling to design a product for 3D printing.

The Edfund looks forward to all the innovative educational uses of 3D printers at the Hamilton Wenham schools.

Congratulations, Mr. Shippen and Mr. Walsh. Advantage granted. And a great way to start the 2014/15 school year.

Hamilton Wenham Edfund Awards Largest Elementary-School Grant Ever: iPads

Edfund President, Jim Cooper, celebrates the iPad grant with Principal, Chris Heath, and several future recipients.

Edfund President, Jim Cooper (left), celebrates the iPad grant with Principal, Chris Heath (right), and several future iPad users.

A $53,000 grant that provides each of the Buker, Cutler, and Winthrop Schools with 30 iPad Airs, Smart Cases and related technology, was awarded this week by the Hamilton Wenham Edfund. It’s the biggest grant in the Edfund’s history to the towns’  elementary schools.

The grant allows students to adopt critical 21st learning skills at an earlier age. Kids will be able to wirelessly stream presentations to their class via Smartboard displays (a past Edfund grant), collaborate with classmates to solve problems, showcase their photography and video editing skills, and much more.

A carefully vetted grant.

The Edfund’s support for the iPad Elementary Initiative grew out of an initial grant that the organization made several years ago when it sponsored an iPad pilot program within the schools, the success of which prompted elementary school teachers to ask for a more extensive deployment of this critical learning and development technology tool into the school’s curriculum.

Andy and Lia Wainright, just two of the proud Edfund sponsors at the "Going Places" event.

Andy and Lia Wainright, just two of the 150 proud Edfund sponsors at the “Going Places” event on My 3.

Recent “Going Places” event provided critical funds.

Some of the funds that enabled this grant were raised through a fundraiser held on Saturday, May 3, in an airplane hangar at Beverly Airport. Attended by more than 150 people from across the community, the event, themed “Going Places,” raised more than $10,000 with all proceeds going towards the purchase of new iPads for each elementary school.

Edfund President Jim Cooper had this to say:

We are thrilled to be able to extend the deployment of iPads in the schools, as it represents the continuation of a pilot we funded a few years ago. To be able to see the success of that effort, and to be part of helping provide technology that clearly will enhance the curriculum, truly is rewarding and is representative of the Edfund’s mission.

You did this.

As always, none of this would be possible without the continued support and generosity of our community which has been the lifeblood of the Edfund over our nearly 25-year history.

Thanks to those who attended the “Going Places” event on May 3, thanks to those who have given to the Edfund this year, and thanks to the teachers and administrators for having the vision to ask for grants like these in the first place.

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