Faculty Innovation Awards

The Brimmer and May Faculty Innovation Award, given by two current parents, has been established as a way for teachers to obtain both classroom funding and personal reward based upon their ability to create a proposal for a teaching experience that transcends the normal school curriculum. This competitive award effort was first established as pilot program at Parkersburg South High School, Parkersburg W.V. and has been in operation since 1999. This award is now being offered to Brimmer and May Faculty and is intended as both a personal acknowledgement of dedicated planning time for curriculum development and an opportunity to obtain additional classroom resources or opportunities to be made available for teachers. 

2018-2019 Innovation Awards

Sara Murray is first grade teacher. Her grant will be used to purchase physics and design building blocks and outdoor classroom equipment which will enhance the STEAM programming in first grade. She wrote in her proposal, "I attended a screening of the movie “The Land” at the Boston Children’s Museum. This movie is a documentary about an adventure playground in Wales and explores the nature and benefits of risky play. The movie was followed by a panel discussion, and I was intrigued by this focus on child-directed exploration and providing opportunities for outdoor learning and play in nature. I have done extensive research about how and why opportunities for outdoor learning and play are so important for children and their development. I want to incorporate what I have learned into the first-grade program at Brimmer and May by designing a dedicated outdoor component to our first-grade STEAM program. Click here to read her full proposal.
Kenley Smith is an Upper School English teacher. Kenley’s grant will be used to purchase audio recording technology for use in the Humanities Department with the goal of the AP Literature students producing a weekly podcast and exploring the process of backwards design. Kenley states in her proposal, "While the primary use of the technology will be in the AP class this year, a longer-term goal is additional implementation in future classes throughout the Humanities Department. The technology purchases will also make it possible for the students to explore how the principles of backwards design apply when working on a project such as a podcast. Additionally, podcasts are a medium which is growing in popularity and diversity. Brimmer students would benefit from being wellversed in this medium." Click here to read her full proposal.
Megan Dolan is the Director of the Middle and Upper School Library and the supervisor of the Library Program. Bethany Shannon is a Middle and Upper School science teacher and the MS Outdoor Education Coordinator. Their grant will be used to purchase tower garden systems to enhance the plant unit in the seventh grade science curriculum. These systems will allow the seventh graders to work on gardening throughout the year, on both experimental units carried out over several months, and year round food production for the dining hall. "Environmental sustainability is an underlying theme in the the Middle School science curriculum, which has included a plant unit for many years. This year, in an effort to further our STEAM programming, a hydroponic gardening unit was implemented on a small scale with a system constructed at school. The unit was met with success as far as learning outcomes, and sparked a desire to expand the study of plants and gardening with a better system in future years." Click here to read their full proposal.

2017-2018 Innovation Awards

Matt Gallon is a Middle School Science Teacher. This grant will provide resources to help integrate a STEAM design component into the Middle School earth science curriculum to encourage students to not only gain a better understanding of how these natural processes occur, but to also provide them with an opportunity to apply that understanding to designing unique and original solutions for mitigating the effects of environmental change on those communities most affected by them. The Innovation Grant will provide Dr. Gallon’s with a set of hydro-geological stream tables that will: a) accurately model the effects of erosion and water pollution, b) allow students to use the STEAM design process to develop and build systems to control the negative effects of these processes, and c) evaluate these systems in hands-on tests.
Dr. Gallon shares, “The sixth grade science students will use the stream tables in their month long unit on erosion. The seventh grade students will use the stream tables for a week-long lab on watershed pollution. Finally, the second grade students will have a one-day experience with the stream tables in the student-led teaching collaboration between the sixth and second grades. The hands-on nature of the stream tables leads to a much higher level of student engagement and understanding than texts, films, or more static models. The impact of the enhanced stream tables will be assessed through the quality and creativity shown in the designs that the sixth and seventh grade students generate and test in order to solve STEAM design challenges related to erosion or water pollution.”

Click here to read the results of his Innovation Grant.
Christian Kiley, a Creative Arts Upper School Digital Cinema teacher, received the 2017-2018 Upper School Innovation Award, funded by E.E. Ford. The grant will allow him to will implement the first phase of building the infrastructure for a fully equipped media lab in the new Hastings Center. The equipment purchased will give Brimmer faculty the opportunity to offer a pedagogically sound film production curriculum, one that offers students comprehensive opportunities to learn best practices in pre-production, production, and postproduction of their original creative works.
The equipment ordered for this first phase will be the catalyst for an ongoing effort to maintain a technologically current suite of cameras, computers, and sound recording equipment. It will expand the capability and depth of the learning process for students in Digital Cinema, Digital Cinema II, and Advanced Digital Cinema, by providing them with the equipment necessary to create work with high production values. Up-to-date equipment will enable students to leverage storytelling techniques that rely on cameras capable of varied, dynamic shots utilizing multiple lens-lengths.
Click here to read the results his Innovation Grant.

2016-2017 Innovation Awards

Kathryn Lee is a Middle and Upper School Visual Arts teacher. The grant money will allow her to purchase five iPad Pros and five Apple Pencils for the Upper School Visual Art Department. This proposal aims to strengthen and further develop the mission of our STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) initiative and also increase the amount of exposure students have to digital technology within the visual arts curriculum. The addition of these iPads will directly impact the Graphic Art and Problem Solving Through Design courses, while also providing the ability to infuse digital techniques in courses such as Studio Art, Advanced Studio Art, Printmaking and Photography. Additionally the iPads will be used by Art Department faculty members for general instructional use. The proposed plan will broaden the current art curriculum in a more contemporary direction, helping to expose our students to limitless possibilities of digital art making.
With the addition of 12.9” iPads and Apple Pencils, students will be equipped with the ability to use technology to create and invent in ways that even the desktop computers can not provide. Using the Apple Pencils and free drawing apps, student will have the ability to draw directly onto the large screen of the iPad in a precise and stylistic manor. Drawing apps provide an expressive experience that allows the user to change brush applicators from fine tip pens to Japanese calligraphy brushes. Users can change colors, blend, smooth, apply various amounts of pressure, overlap and erase. These possibilities will provide unique opportunities within the visual arts courses for both students and instructors, making the art room even more of a collaborative workspace.
For example: 
  • Problem Solving Through Design: As a group oriented class, students can quickly sketch ideas and easily share them with their group-mates. Sophisticated renderings of product designs will add a professional quality to class slideshows and presentation boards, while providing the students with the skills they need to design and collaborate in the real world.
  • Graphic Art: Students will be able to explore the concepts of digital illustration by using iPads as an alternative to pencil and paint. This allows students to easily share and document work, while providing an easy and effective way for instructors to give feedback. A teacher can draw or comment directly on to a copy of a project without effecting the original artwork.
  • Studio Art and Advanced Studio Art: Along with the uses stated above, teachers can also photograph an analogue project (pencil, charcoal, paint, etc.) and provide feedback directly onto to the photograph through drawing, or notes, again without effecting the original work. 
  • Photography: Similar to the above, students can draw directly onto their own images allowing them to create pieces that combine photographs with original drawings.
Click here to see the results of her Innovation Grant.
Andrew Stattel is a Second Grade Teacher and Lower School Science Coordinator. The grant funds will allow him to expand the scope of the current Garden Classroom. It will provide all Lower School students increased opportunities to garden and study environmental science and ecology. Solar covers and raised bed greenhouses will extend the growing season of vegetables and flowers and teach the students about the power of the sun and the importance of renewable energy. Indoor grow stations will allow students to garden in their classrooms and make scientific observations year round. Repurposing various approved outdoor locations on campus will give all grade levels their own designated outdoor gardening space that they can access at any time. New gardening tools will provide the instruments necessary for students to engage in gardening activities and science projects. A child-friendly, aesthetically pleasing tool shed will keep these tools organized and protected from the elements. Materials to create signs to label the various plants in the garden will teach students how to identify the various plants they grow. In short, this grant will provide all Lower School students with essential learning experiences unique to gardening, life science, and ecology. This grant will benefit the entire Lower School, Pre-K through five, and enrich the curricula across all Lower School Grade levels.

Click here to see the results of his Innovation Grant.

2015-2016 Innovation Awards

Ina Patel is a fourth grade teacher. The grant money will allow her to design an interactive, dynamic science/maker’s space for Lower School students. This space, called the Design Lab, will not only house traditional science equipment such as beakers, graduated cylinders, rulers, and eye droppers for our future biologists and physicists, but the new space will also be home to our aspiring engineers and design architects. The room will be equipped with a variety of tools and resources that lend themselves to design-thinking and inquiry-based learning experiences. Every teacher will utilize the room to expand or build lessons using the tools that will live in this space. The shelves and walls will be filled with any tool that will spark a child’s imagination to life—Legos, Lego boards, white boards, laptops, littleBits, Makey Makeys, 3-D printer, conductive thread, wooden blocks, pipe cleaners, glue, model clay, popsicles, recycled material, and so much more.
She wrote in her proposal, “The objective of the Design Lab is to teach our children how to be global leaders using 21st century skills. We want our students to gain a deeper understanding of the world, to think creatively and critically, to collaborate and share ideas, and to apply knowledge and create something innovative. . . .The materials for the Design Lab will encourage the students to recognize the importance of the design process as well as the importance of revising. Giving them an opportunity to play, to make mistakes, and to re-design is a skill they must learn in order to succeed in today’s world. The advent of technology and the Internet have made skills such as memorization and step-by- step experiments obsolete. We must teach our students the 21st century skills in order for them to succeed. The most tangible way to accomplish this goal is through hands-on experiences and the design process.”

Click here to see the results of her Innovation Grant.
Frank Van Atta is the Director of Middle and Upper School Music. The grant will create a state-of-the-art music studio, cover the cost of music applications, and serve all students in the fourth and fifth grades, the entire Middle School, as well as those students enrolled in the Upper School choral ensemble, Greenline.
The grant will cover the costs of GarageBand and Notion, which are among the most innovative and unique music applications available on the iPad. Both applications would be used to integrate technology into the music curriculum, as well as to provide authentic performance opportunities in the classroom. GarageBand allows students to create a unique composition using a wide variety of instruments across several genres. Notion takes this application on step further and allows students to bring their compositions to notated scores. Finally, a state-of-the-art sound system in the Katzin Music Studio will allow our facilities to remain at the forefront of technology.
Mr. Van Atta wrote, “The Faculty Innovation Grant will revolutionize how music is taught at Brimmer. In addition to creating a state-of-the-art music classroom, it will make technology an integral element of the curriculum and serve to enhance student comprehension in all learning styles. This approach to technology will be quite unique to Brimmer and will contribute greatly to our global focus as a School.”

Click here to see the results of his Innovation Grant.

2014-2015 Innovation Awards

Elizabeth Hickey and Alina DeKay are pre-kindergarten teachers. The grant money will allow pre-kindergarten teachers to expose their students to the components of simple machines to provide our early engineers with the necessary tools for solving everyday challenges. Demonstration models will provide hands-on independent and cooperative learning opportunities that will generate conversation and develop multiple solutions to creating a simple machine out of recyclable materials. These demonstration models will increase students’ understanding of simple machines and provide a platform for students to understand complex machines and systems. They will apply this knowledge to create a digital simple machine using the iPad application Electrokite Interactive. This early exposure will create the necessary foundation our students will need as they continue to further investigate the engineering opportunities available at Brimmer and May.
Funding will support a star theater planetarium that will allow students to explore the night sky, identify popular constellations, and create original star constellations using the Doodle Buddy application on their iPads. Students will explore solar power by assembling a solar power car kit and will witness first-hand how scientists identify and find solutions to create a more sustainable planet.
Click here to see the results of their Innovation Grant.
To help prepare students for life in our increasingly digital age, we have to give them an opportunity to first develop a design method of thinking, a blue-print of how and why things around us work the way they do. The proposed learning materials will promote this creative design perspective in our pre-k students this year, and become a dynamic element of curriculum for future classes to explore.”
Sarah Murray Molly Serventi-Gleeson
Sara Murray and Molly Serventi-Gleeson are first grade teachers at Brimmer and May. Their proposal will allow for the creation of a dynamic and integrated STEAM Lab program for first graders. Innovation grant funding will allow teachers to implement a year-long, weekly STEAM lab with lessons that integrate hands-on engineering, math, science, art and technology projects. These projects will connect to existing curricula and be age-appropriate, problem-solving challenges that offer consistent and comprehensive exposure to the engineering process, and provide opportunities for students to practice and apply problem-solving strategies and teamwork. Students will learn the Engineering Design Framework and work through the steps of identifying the problem, planning solutions, testing, creating, evaluating and improving their work. Each week, students will tackle a new challenge, working individually and in groups to construct and evaluate their creations. Parents will be invited to assist or lead a lab, and guest speakers, who are experts in STEAM industries, will demonstrate their work and inspire the students to apply their STEAM skills to future studies in all fields.

Click here to see the results of their Innovation Grant.

“Our greatest enhancement will be the benefits derived from a well-funded, year-long, comprehensive program. Students will be regularly exposed to a new way of thinking about problems and applying solutions. It will challenge students to innovate and explore, work as a team, and have genuine, low-stress opportunities to persevere with difficult tasks/challenges. The STEAM Lab provides an authentic, organic way to differentiate the learning experience.”
Kathryn Lee is a Middle and Upper School Creative Arts teacher; Jason Bock is a pre-k- 12 Technology Coordinator and Middle/Upper School teacher. The innovation grant allows for funding to create a maker space in the Corkin Visual Arts Center—a collaboration between the Technology Department and the Visual Arts Department. This space will feature two 3D printers and access to 3D rendering software that will be used by Middle and Upper School art classes. This will broaden the current art curriculum in a contemporary direction and expose students to collaborative learning environments.
Click here to see the results of their Innovation Grant. 
Our proposal aims to strengthen and further develop the mission of our STEAM initiative and also increase the amount of exposure students have to digital technology within the visual arts curriculum from grades 6-12. The 8th grade art classes will run the first pilot project with the equipment and technology. The project will challenge students to physically build an object out of clay, 3D scan the object into the computer, and then animate the object using the 3D rendering program. The end result will be a short digital animation. The Middle and Upper School community will have access to the equipment through various clubs and electives, such as Web and Media Design, Architecture, and Creative Tech. This will also allow for the preparation of a Upper School Design elective.”

2013-2014 Innovation Awards

Chris Harman is an Upper School Science teacher and the designer and coordinator of the newly minted STEAM Diploma Program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). The grant money will allow him to purchase the additional materials needed for a Mobile Maker Lab at Brimmer and May. Materials such as CNC router/miller/engraver, vinyl cutter, power and hand tools, and an electronics prototyping suite would be added to the currently owned 3D printer to allow our students to fabricate solutions to a wide range of scientific and engineering “problems”. The Maker Lab will be mounted on three large mobile tool carts that can be moved to appropriate spaces such as the four science labs, the computer lab, the scene shop, and the art barn.

Click here to download Chris's detailed summary of the result of the Innovation Grant.
“The best way to combine all of the five core subjects of STEAM is through prototyping and making. Science and math concepts solve a problem; art leads the design process; and finally technology and engineering are employed to fabricate a physical prototype. All of this will be achieved with a Mobile Maker Lab which will benefit both our upper school students and our after school programs in the middle school.”
Cecelia Pan is the Chair of the Science Department at Brimmer and May. The grant money will allow her to purchase LabQuest 2 probes which will connect wirelessly to iPads and computers and will allow students to analyze scientific data more effectively and efficiently as working groups of students can collect data and store it on their own iPad. The LabQuest 2 also contains built in sensors such as GPS and accelerometers, which allow for the taking of data remotely, which increases the flexibility of taking data in experiments. Generally, these devices will allow Brimmer and May scientist in grades 6-12 to more effectively analyze and manipulate data and make conclusions about what the data means.

Click here to download Cecelia's detailed summary of the result of the Innovation Grant.
“I am very excited to implement this grant because the LabQuest 2 materials will be used throughout the middle and upper school science curriculum. Some highlights follow. In 6th grade students use temperature probes and LabPro to conduct experiments on freezing point and boiling point of water. Chemistry uses pH sensors to create acid/base titration curves to study equivalence points of various acid/base combinations. Physics and AP Physics uses a selection of probes including motion detectors, photo-gates, accelerometers, force meters, voltmeter, and ammeter to conduct physic experiments. AP Biology uses a spectrophotometer to study the concentration of enzymes in different mushroom samples and the class also uses carbon dioxide sensors and oxygen sensors to study cellular respiration rates in yeast.”

2012-2013 Innovation Awards

Yuhong Xu is a Mandarin teacher and founder of the Chinese program at Brimmer and May. The 2012-2013 grant money allowed her to purchase new iPads and Pleco Mandarin software licenses. Her students in grades 5-12 have the opportunity to use these additional tools in the classroom and at home.

Click here to download Yuhong's detailed summary of the result of the Innovation Grant.

“I never stop challenging myself to find more creative and effective ways to teach, to go beyond purely traditional methods. After several professional development opportunities, sharing with other Mandarin teachers and learners, and researching new ways to learn Mandarin, I have found using the iPad with a Mandarin application made by Pleco would work best for my students and allow them to take challenges more independently and effectively with the spirit of innovation. The objective is to encourage and maintain student interest in learning Mandarin and the culture through a fun, engaging, and interactive environment. iPads plus the Mandarin application Pleco will work best for my students in and out of the class.”
Elizabeth Wooster is a Lower School Music teacher. The 2012-2013 grant money allowed for a wireless connection between an iPad, speakers, and a ceiling-mounted projector through AppleTV.

Click here to download Elizabeth's detailed summary of the result of the Innovation Grant.

"With a goal to increase literacy development and student engagement, I would like to incorporate my school-issued iPad in the creation of dynamic visual and audio activities within the Lower School music classroom. Projected images and aural excerpts will enrich classroom sessions in which students participate in kinesthetic and hands-on learning activities. Within the current curriculum, all grade levels learn the language of music by reading, writing, singing, playing instruments, moving, notating, improvising, composing, and analyzing. In addition to a wealth of musical activities, all children complete one rhythmic and one pitch composition each year in their general music class."
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