SHEFFIELD — Sheffield High School teacher Jamie Smith leaves next week for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she plans to learn more about how to implement a year-long project with her students. Smith earned the trip to MIT (June 18-21) after being selected as one of 30 educators in Alabama to receive the Lemelson-MIT Excite Award. Smith is seeking funding for a year-long project for her "Intro to Engineering" class.
"The idea we submitted was a multi-functional table for special education classes with a touch screen device in the middle, where the students can work collaboratively with their teacher," Smith said. After the training, the application process requires Smith to describe the project in full detail. There will be 15 projects funded for up to $10,000, Smith said. "At the training, last year's winning teams will be there to show us how the process works, and they can tell us how to strengthen our applications," she said. Next week's training workshop, called EurekaFest, is a multi-day invention celebration.
Assistant Superintendent Carlos Nelson said initiatives such as Smith's are what moves the school district forward. "Pursuing these types of programs keeps us on the cutting edge (technologically) and it's a win-win for students and our district," he said. Smith said good materials would be needed for the project with a touch screen about 42 inches wide. "The students will design, build and work out all the technology aspects of the project," she said. "It would be huge if we won the funding for this."