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Madison elementary goes innovative

For Innovation Day, sixth-grader Felicia Onawola experimented with solar panels. RECORD PHOTOS/GREGG L. PARKER
For Innovation Day, sixth-grader Felicia Onawola experimented with solar panels. RECORD PHOTOS/GREGG L. PARKER
Sixth-grader Mitchell Dashoff designed a high-tech 'home plate' for Innovation Day at Madison Elementary School. RECORD PHOTOS/GREGG L. PARKER
Sixth-grader Mitchell Dashoff designed a high-tech ‘home plate’ for Innovation Day at Madison Elementary School. RECORD PHOTOS/GREGG L. PARKER

MADISON – During the past six weeks, sixth-graders pondered ‘What if?’ for Innovation Day at Madison Elementary School on Dec. 17.

Started in 2014, Innovation Day developed from collaboration with Madison Elementary Principal Melissa Mims and the sixth-grade teaching team. “The concept is about empowering students to research things that they’re passionate about and developing new ideas based on those passions,” sixth-grade teacher Bonnie Howard.

Other sixth-grade teachers are Shannon Lilienthal, Laura Ruffin and Sara Arszman. “As educators, we know that, by finding out what’s really interesting to our students, we can introduce students to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) connections,” Howard said.

Sixth-graders assumed roles of presenters and educators. They explained their ‘innovations’ to each grade that visited in the library.

“Last year, our students’ reflections were overwhelmingly positive about the entire event,” Howard said. “It’s always awe-inspiring to see independent projects that students develop and then watch them as they share their enthusiasm with younger students.”

To showcase ‘new learning’ from their research, sixth-graders created display boards for their new idea or product, along with models and prototypes.

Their ideas included solar-powered strips in road beds to melt ice, a coating for ‘monkey bars’ to make them safer, a proposal for mag-lev (magnetic levitation) cars and a computer program that uses normal household items to create music.

Sixth-grader Mitchell Dashoff designed a high-tech home plate for baseball fields that senses when the runner touches the base, allowing umpires to make more accurate calls.

Sixth-grader Felicia Onawola proposed a way to power a house with solar energy. Onawola’s project included a model house with Popsicle-stick roof, solar panel and electrical circuitry.

Learning about students’ passions for discovery was exciting, Howard said. Teachers will incorporate their findings into future lessons.

Innovation Day allows students “to experience and practice college-and-career-ready, 21st- century skills like collaboration, technology integration and presentation and to make STEAM connections,” Howard said.

Student L.J. Saurman said Innovation Day “captured our interests and let us reflect it on others.” Student William Daniel Fox said the event “had a positive impact on my imagination and creativity.”

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