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Elegante’s grant to buy microscope that ‘talks’ to Apple devices

Daniel Elegante’s grant, “Do You See What I See?,” will buy a high-powered, high-tech microscope for Bob Jones High School.

“The unique microscope wirelessly projects the image to as many as 255 iPods, iPads or iPhones capable of WiFi connections,” Elegante said. The handheld microscope also serves as a camera on a traditional microscope. Elegante teaches chemistry and advance-placement chemistry.

In preparing his application, Elegante explained this portable microscope’s transmission capabilities. “Teachers and students can look at fingerprints, live specimens, leaves, a tongue or skin and transmit all images to iPads for all to see, capture and use.”

Elegante received the $1,000 grant from Science and Technology Education and Training (STEDTRAIN), the committee with the Huntsville Association of Technical Societies (HATS) that administers ‘seed’ grants.

HATS hopes many students will use purchased equipment, generating interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. “Often times, schools combine the seed grant with local monies to fund equipment,” Elegante said.

For three years, the Madison district has had little or no money for science equipment, Elegante said. Teachers depend on parents’ and community donations. “When you see an awesome product like this microscope using technology that kids have in everyday life, you want to use it, but $1,000 is a steep price.”

Elegante has received several HATS grants in his 20-year teaching career. “It’s awesome that they put their money where their math is,” he said. People often say, ‘Teachers should get paid more’ or ‘Science education needs more funding, but “few of those people back it up with action.”

HATS “knows the difference it makes in students’ lives. Even though $1,000 doesn’t fix the problem, they’re doing their part,” Elegante said.

“Education is moving from a world of facts and figures to one of complex thinking and exploration,” he said. “Students can now look up any fact instantly on the web. Teachers must change (from) teacher-centered learning where the student is passively filled with information to student-centered learning where the student is responsible for their own learning.”

The teacher becomes a mentor, like a coach who “refines, encourages and helps players” who are working their hardest.

In 20 years, unimagined technologies and jobs may be in place, he said. “Education (must) provide students with the skill set to succeed in the future. Forward thinking by local donors like HATS makes that kind of innovation in education possible.”

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