SPARK Grant Gives Coles Elementary Students a Chance to Learn While Helping Others

Kindergarten teacher Ramona Richardson has written many grants over the years to bring new resources and learning experiences to her students. But recently, she embarked on a project, funded by SPARK, that is not only impacting students at Coles Elementary School but also at other Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) as well as children around the world.

At a grant writing workshop hosted by SPARK, Ms. Richardson met a teacher of the visually impaired. She was there to learn how to write a grant for more hands-on materials for her students. While speaking with her, Ms. Richardson realized that Coles students could help this teacher by 3D printing some objects that she could use in the classroom.

Coles Elementary School applied for and received a grant to buy a 3D printer to print objects related to several children’s books the visually-impaired students would be reading to help them experience the stories in a more meaningful way by feeling some of the characters and objects in the stories.

The books and 3D printed objects were given to the administrator coordinator for Visual Impairment including Blindness, Leslie Parrott. The teachers she supervises check the books and objects out from her office to use in their classroom. Students can touch objects such as the bat, bird, and nest from Stellaluna or the different foods eaten by The Very Hungry Caterpillar as the teacher reads each story. The teachers of PWCS visually-impaired students are thrilled with their new resources.

Coles students also used their 3D printer to help children around the globe as well. E-NABLE is an organization that allows individuals using their 3D printers to create free 3D printed hands and arms for those in need of an upper limb assistive device. Students have made several hands through the school’s Tech Club and are not only learning about 3D printing but also how their hands can change the lives of those who receive them.