Spotlighting Education

Our spotlights include inspirational stories of school districts and teachers exploring new and exciting approaches to learning! We are also posting articles that you may find useful and maybe some ideas that you can try in your classroom. Have a question, just send us an email at

Spotlight: Students Explore Space with NASA and TPBL

At STEM Middle at Baldwin Road Junior High in Reynoldsburg, OH, teachers used a NASA-funded grant to plan and implement space exploration-themed activities with students. PAST Foundation was there to support the work, and capture the fun!

Spotlight- The Hybrid Teaching Model

Submitted To: South Dakota Community Foundation

In Fulfillment Of: Bush Community Grant

In 2015, South Dakota Innovation Lab (SDIL) was awarded a Bush South Dakota Community Foundation grant for the purpose of piloting a Hybrid teaching system that incorporates technology and prototypes a model for integrating content and problem-based instructional strategies alongside hybrid delivery for pre-service teachers.

The proposal comes from a five year quest to address several critical issues facing education in rural America.

Spotlight- Problem-Based Learning with Birds!

Kindergarten students typically hear or see a bird and yet often remain oblivious to the sounds of nature surrounding them. Kelly Preheim’s kindergarten class in Armour, SD not only pays attention, but can name birds by sound and sight—over 300 of them!

Spotlight- Summer Hybrid Teaching

Three teachers in one classroom, teaching multiple subjects at the same time? How can standards be addressed if everything is combined together? How do students even know what they are learning? This summer, PAST piloted a hybrid teaching program called Sprouts, and began collecting answers to these questions.

Classroom Spotlight- Part 2 Sharing of The Peace Project at Herbert Mills STEM Elementary in Reynoldsburg, OH

On a warm day in Spring before lunch, students gathered in the school’s community garden for The Peace Project Reveal to show off the smooth stones they painted with symbols and artwork that resembled what peace means to them. The Reveal marked the final step— share in the Herbert Mills Elementary Engineering Design ProcessThe project launched three weeks prior at Morning Roar, the school-wide meeting that begins each school day.

Spotlight- Transforming Spaces and Practice

From the outside, Baldwin STEM Middle School resembles a typical school.  However, as you walk into the school, you immediately recognize this is not a traditional school.  The numerous decisions the team and students have made to showcase the students’ STEM experience at the middle level is evident throughout the building. This transformation began with reimagining the traditional library to become a space the staff and students now call The Foundry.  This redefined space was catalyzed by an idea to provide middle school students an opportunity to learn within a maker space.  A lead teacher for Baldwin, Sandy Guinto, envisioned an opportunity to build a math course that would utilize the maker space tools and build a pipeline for students to transition into the high school level Fab Lab.  Her course “The Art of Math,” students have an opportunity to learn and reinforce math content standards through the lens of design and art.

Video Games in the Classroom, Really?

A sixth grade student sits staring intensely in front of his laptop, fervently clicking his mouse to place sandstone blocks in the popular video game Minecraft. As the teacher moves behind him to view his screen, he tells her that after scaling his pyramid to half size, the structure was still way too big, but scaling to quarter size was too small and wouldn’t “look cool.” Should he scale the model to one-third size? He would have to round to a nearest whole number, but that was okay, right? The teacher asks him to explain how he would divide and round the various dimensions of the pyramid, and the student responds by quickly typing on his calculator and scribbling a few numbers on a sheet of paper, before reporting his idea.


School Spotlight- Inquisitive Brains Bring the 2nd Annual Health Fair to (HS)2 Reynoldsburg, OH

Walking through the school’s halls towards the southeast end of the building, a dull hum grows into a vibrant buzz, percolating with shouts of excitement and calls to friends. Through the corridors and into the school’s Field House, the buzz becomes a warble of enthusiasm and alacrity as students, siblings, teachers, and parents bustle to and from various tables, examining brochures, models, and interactive devices. Student projects tower on some tables, while other tables host local health-related businesses and organizations.

Classroom Spotlight- Part 1: Planning of The Peace Project at Herbert Mills Elementary in Reynoldsburg, OH

PAST works with schools to help build and support a culture that engages students in authentic problem-solving within their schools and community. As thinking partners for the Herbert Mills STEM Elementary team, we brainstormed how students might answer the question, “How can we promote peace among ourselves, our school, and our community?”

Students and teachers articulate the problem-solving process by using The Herbert Mills Engineering Design Process (pictured on right). Our teaching teams also engage in design thinking and the design process in their own curriculum planning.

Classroom Spotlight-Community Partners, Engaging Problems, Student Solutions….Oh My!

Angela Forino is a 3rd Grade educator at Herbert Mills Elementary School in Reynoldsburg, OH and has a goal this year: get her students designing solutions for their community.  And, she is accomplishing this goal everyday by reaching out to partners in the community to connect her students with.

Classroom Spotlight-Using a Real Problem to Teach Math...of all things!

In Ms. Baker’s Algebra 3 class at eSTEM last month, students learned about quadratic equations.  However, instead of simply drilling through a plethora of problem sets, students addressed the problem, “How can we boost the Wi-Fi hotspot on Ms. Baker’s phone?”  Ms. Baker has shared her own passion for gaming with her students, including her accounts of playing the recently popular game Pokémon Go with her own children.  If her kids were sharing the Wi-Fi on her phone between their own hand-held devices, how could they enhance their experience of playing the game together?