Foundation's 'mini' grants pay big dividends

Helen Haller science teacher Dave Hasenpflug is hoping he and his students can build better rockets.

Sue Park hopes her "Flashmasters" computers that mimic multiplication flash cards can boost student learning.

And Cherry Bibler, a district physical therapist, hopes her Wii video game system can help children who have extreme motor skill problems.

Rather than hope for another economic stimulus or magically-appearing funds from the state, these and about a dozen other Sequim teachers received a boost this fall from the Sequim Education Foundation, a nonprofit group that seeks to improve Sequim schools, supplies teachers with funds for special projects and aids in student achievement.

The foundation, also know for its annual film festivals and engineering challenges, has awarded so-called "mini grants" since its inception in 2001.

This year, nearly a third of all foundation dollars go to teacher grants.

Gaming and gaming

Park, a mathematics teacher at Sequim Middle School for 15 years before switching to Greywolf Elementary School recently as a Math Title I specialist, received a grant to purchase "Flashmasters" computerized math tools, as did middle school teacher Paul Pinza.

Two years ago, Park received a mini grant for a "Classroom Jeopardy" program. After using it at the middle school, Park has taken the program to Greywolf as well.

"Teachers are looking forward to some wonderful learning experiences using this interactive game that is just like the TV show," Park said.

Hasenpflug, a foundation grant recipient three times previous, is the science specialist at Haller. His 2009

grant supports an after-

school, rocketry-engineering club that begins in February.

"At first we will all be

learning about such universal science concepts as gravity, force, motion and how compressed air can do work," Hasenpflug said.

"After we have a basic understanding of the principles behind why things fly, we will then begin to design our paper rockets in teams of three, and test them, recording our data on the sheet attached."

Higher fliers

After doing measurements of weight, height and diameter of the rockets and other calculations, the students will work to redesign and build and test a better rocket, one that will fly higher.

"If there is enough time, we will try to determine the best angle of launch to get our rockets to land in a designated area and also design a parachute system to gently help our rockets to land," Hasenpflug said. "In the process, we will discover a lot about engineering, teamwork, success and failure ... (and) perseverance."

Out of 20 applicants,

Sequim Education Foundation board members awarded 10 grants totaling more than $5,400 (see box). For the first time, the foundation granted dollars to special education classrooms.

Video learning lab

Pam Pillow, a special education teacher, was granted $750 for a video learning technology lab. She purchased video cameras that provide immediate visual feedback to students and teachers.

Darcie Clawson, the district's occupational therapist, was granted $750 to purchase a program that assists children who have sensory processing difficulties, such as those with autism.

Children with autism have difficulty learning in busy classrooms and can become easily over-stimulated by all the sensory input.

Bibler, a physical therapist, was able to purchase a Wii Fit for helping young students with motor skill development.

Children with gross motor delays can have difficulty independently navigating the campus, playing on the playground or even maneuvering through a classroom without bumping into things or falling out of a chair.

"We are loving using our new equipment with the kids," Clawson said. "It is unlikely in these economic times that funding would be prioritized for special projects. Children are highly motivated by technology."

Sequim Education Foundation 2009 grants

School, Project Grant Students

staffer name amount helped

Helen Haller,

Sheri Suryan white boards $130 150*

Middle school,

Michael Galligan Scrabble kits $210 120*

Helen Haller,

art program art lessons $350 550

Special ed.,

Cherry Bibler Wii fitness $500 60*

Special ed.,

Pam Pillow video learning $500 75*

Special ed.,

Darcie Clawson Int. learn system $750 50*

Middle school,

Isabella Morrison Force & motion $730 120*

Middle school,

Joe Landoni WOW factor $736 240*

Middle school,

Park & Pinza Flashmasters $750 200*

Helen Haller,

Dave Hasenpflug Rocketry Club $750 30*

Total $5,405

* - denotes programs that continue beyond

2009-2010 school year

Reach Michael Dashiell at

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