Online public school teachers get creative to provide hands-on l - CBS46 News

Online public school teachers get creative to provide hands-on learning

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Source: WGCL Source: WGCL

Hands-on learning is all the rage in education, but for public school students who take all of their classes online, getting their hands on the latest technology can be a challenge.

It’s why their teachers are having to get creative.

Wendy Aracich teaches for Georgia Connections Academy, an online charter school. She’s passionate about teaching art and design, including 3-D printing. Her biggest challenge is making sure students actually get their hands on a 3-D printer.

"They don't have access unless they have a 3D printer at home, which most people don't,” said Aracich. “So I really wanted to find a way to get those to the students both virtually and in person."

When she found out about what's called the "Innovation Fund Tiny Grant Program," offered by the Governor's Office of Student Achievement, she went for it and won.

At a recent education conference, she showed off some of her new 3-D printers, purchased with the $4,200 grant. Freshman Lesley Castillo-Edward of Fairburn also attended and for the first time was able to see the printed version of the pencil box she designed.

"I did it on the computer,” said Lesley, “so now I can actually see it, feel it, touch it and see what it's like."

Michael Specht, a sophomore from Canton, got to watch his design take shape.

"I kind a get a small thrill. It's like, 'Hey, I made that,’” said Michael.

He designed a bracelet that doubles as a cell phone stand.

"It worked, but the phone didn't fit quite right,” he said.

"It's a good way to test the effectiveness of what you designed,” said Aracich. “It might look great on the screen, but when you print it, does it actually function as what it's supposed to function?”

Thanks to the grant, Aracich can now wheel the printers to her students in their towns all across the state.

“Anybody should learn how to do that,” said Lesley. “It's new technology and stuff, so I feel like everybody should be able to do it.”

Applying for and winning grants has become an essential part of Aracich’s job.

“Since we are a Title I school, we don’t have a lot of extra money for non-essentials,” she said. “I have a mindset of wanting to get opportunities for our students no matter what our budget may be, so applying for grants has been an opportunity to pull in other resources without having to ask administration for money that we just don’t have.”

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