PIERCETON — On Wednesday, April 25, Pat Welch of CenturyLink’s Warsaw office showed up at Pierceton Elementary School with a poster-sized check for $4070.50 for Dana Clutter and Brittany Hamm, PES teachers who were named recipients of a Centurylink grant they had applied for earlier in the year.
Clutter and Hamm revealed in their grant request that they hoped to use the funds to purchase virtual reality headsets to be used as a part of the ongoing fourth grade Genius Hour.
The Genius Hour is a place dedicated for student freedom in choosing an area that interests them, researching that area, and then eventually presenting their findings to their fellow classmates.
The Genius Hour embraces technology, math, science and more. Typically, presentations include dioramas and fully-functioning experiments. Clutter admitted that many times, students get so excited about the Genius Hour, that they even work on their projects at home, even though it is not a requirement as a part of their homework.
The VR headsets will allow for the students to take virtual field trips to all sorts of destinations, right from the comfort of the classroom. This innovative idea is just one more way that PES has taken the initiative to lead in the area of technology. Already, students throughout Whitko’s school system enjoy a 1-to-1 ratio of electronic devices, with each student using an iPad or Google Chromebook.
Meanwhile, the PES Learning Commons hosts learning games through the OSMO system, green screen technology to assist with movie making, and even utilizes basic coursework to develop student interest in electrical currents using experiments with conductors through the MakersSpace.
The Genius Hour will be enhanced with the addition of the headsets by next year. The fourth grade classes will host the Genius Hour Expo on May 10 at 5:30 p.m. in the PES gymnasium. At the expo, student research projects completed during the Genius Hour will be on display for the community and general public to enjoy.