The Auburn Education Foundation, through its educator grants program, provides funding for innovative programs that enhance the quality of education through extended learning opportunities. Students of all ages at Auburn’s public schools will benefit from grants awarded this year. Grants totaling $11,732 will enrich the educational experience of many students within the district. Funded grants include:

Visiting Author Maker Faire: Authors Miranda and Baptiste Paul, — along with Cameroon farmer Tantoh Nforba, the subject of the Paul’s book, "I Am Farmer" — visited each elementary school and shared how Tantoh solved water problems and developed community gardens in his country. The Auburn Education Foundation funded an evening event where parents, students and community members could learn about the experiences of the authors, illustrator and farmer Tantoh. The event also featured a Maker Faire in which students in grades three through six shared environmentally focused projects. Students, individually or in groups, identified an environmental problem and developed a solution to this problem using the design process taught in the Innovation Lab located in each elementary building. The seed money for these labs was also funded by Auburn Education Foundation. Chosen projects were displayed at the evening event and the students discussed their projects with attendees.

• Sound recording technologies: Auburn Junior High School students interested in the technical aspects of music and visual design (stage lighting, acoustics, live sound mixing) as well as public address technologies (Promethean board application, video projection) will have the opportunity to set up, facilitate and tear down sound and audio at AJHS events (assemblies, guest speakers, meetings, award ceremonies, etc.). This will be accomplished with the purchase of a set of two wireless microphones and an earset lavalier.

• First-person view drone project: With the purchase of three first-person-view drones, students at Auburn Junior High School will be able to describe, repair and operate these drones. They'll also be able to experience piloting drones remotely, and acquire an understanding of drone technology. They will also have the opportunity to use them in sanctioned BOCES drone competitions.

• Project Invent: The Project Invent program provides curriculum and gives students an opportunity to work with engineer professors from MIT to realize a solution to a global or local issue. Students involved in this program will submit projects to Project Invent and, if chosen, will travel to Silicon Valley to pitch their design to industry leaders.

• Essential modular circuits: These kits will provide students in the electronics and engineering classes at Auburn High School with simple, easy-to-understand materials from which they can build series and parallel circuits. Students will increase their understanding of circuits and their applications in modern society.

• Extended Learning Time Book Club: AEF will fund the purchase of high-interest, grade-appropriate books aimed to strengthen skills as critical thinkers through analysis of diverse texts. Titles will include books at various reading levels to accommodate all sixth grade students at Genesee Elementary School.

• “Expanding Your Horizons” girls STEM conference: This one-day science, technology, engineering and math conference held at Cornell University targets seventh and eighth grade girls who would not otherwise be able to participate in a program of this nature. Conference goals are to stimulate the participants’ interest in math and science through hands-on activities and to foster awareness of math- and science-related careers.

• Asian Elephant live free coloring book: Herman Avenue fifth and sixth grade students will have the opportunity to develop, illustrate and write captions for an innovative coloring book and to assist the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand. Students will gain knowledge and strengthen their appreciation of endangered species, a different culture and how to be a global citizen. Coloring books will be given to each participating student and a copy will be sent to each elementary library. Electronic copies will be sent to the Elephant Nature Park, where profits from sales will be used to care for the animals at the park.

• Advancing literacy skills with karaoke: The purchase of a karaoke machine will allow students at Genesee Elementary School to use music and lyrics as a way to strengthen literacy skills. Students will be motivated through music to use phonics to read and identify the link of rhythm, sound and text.

More than 1,000 students will be participating in or benefiting from these grants. The Auburn Education Foundation is proud to fund these exciting programs that will impact so many students.

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Janie Hutchinson is president of the Auburn Education Foundation Board of Directors.