By Erin Albanese
When playing Minecraft: Education Edition in class, Southeast Kelloggsville students know what they’re building: math skills.
The worlds they join and build, connected via computers, require design, collaboration and awareness of dimensions.
“We are using geometry because geometry involves shapes and angles,” said Andrea Ronzon-Contreras. “In my opinion, I love it because you get to connect with people and build your own world.”
Teacher Tina Brown’s students have used the program, an educational version of the popular Minecraft video game, since January, after Brown’s $135 grant request to pay for the program was approved by the Kelloggsville Education Foundation.
Since 2005, the foundation has added $80,000 in hard-to-come-by supplemental dollars to fund projects and educational items for teachers and create a scholarship for high school students. It recently awarded three scholarships to graduating seniors: Kiara Glekle, Jaime Tiesma and Joshua Hotelling, who received $2,000, $1,000 and $500, respectively.
By hosting an annual golf outing, a Texas Hold ‘Em event and other fundraisers, as well as collecting voluntary payroll deductions from staff members, the foundation funds a wide array of projects. They include author visits, ukuleles, art display cases, technology, document cameras, video projectors and items for a classroom store.
Brown said the foundation makes possible “extras” that enhance education, such as the Minecraft program, which she wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Next school year, she plans to use the program for assignments that also connect with the fourth-grade science and history curriculum, like building a three-tiered government and designing windmills with a limited budget.
“The whole idea is to build a foundation to give back to our students,” said Lori Martin, who is in charge of marketing for the district and serves on the foundation. They eventually hope to create an endowment.
A board of directors, consisting of Martin, a business services staff member, teacher, principal, board of education member, secretary and parent, chooses to fund mini-grant requests from teachers each fall, for implementation second semester.
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