HIGHLAND - A Highland art teacher is one of the latest recipients of a grant from the Highland Education Foundation. She was awarded for her idea that is changing the way STEM education, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, is viewed.
HEF President and founder Judi Caddick says the organization that she created in 2015 is there to support teachers who develop a new and innovative way to teach a concept.
"We raise money to give grants to classroom teachers for creative and innovative ideas that they want to implement in their classroom," Caddick says.
Julie Bensinger, who has taught Art in Highland schools for 14 years, is one of several recipients from the HEF's first cycle of grants to enhance the learning environment. She identified the need for STEAM, which is incorporating art in STEM, (science, technology, engineering, and math) in her classroom. Caddik says by integrating art and design with STEM subjects, Bensinger was able to strengthen her students' abilities to be creative problem solvers.
"She (Bensinger) wrote a grant to purchase these kits," Caddick says. "They're called littleBits and they're like electronic Legos and kids can do amazing things with these. These littleBits were actually recognized as the 2018 toy of the year."
The littleBits are a platform of easy-to-use electronic building blocks that allows the user to invent creations from remote control structures to a smart home device. The creations one can achieve are unlimited, according to Bensinger. She says using their imagination, students can create an idea, prototype it, test it, receive feedback from their peers, revise it and develop a working design.