Ritonya Buscher Poehling Grant Makes Classroom Innovation Possible

Our Lady of Lourdes, a member of the Omaha Catholic Consortium, will enhance its middle school science curriculum and student experience thanks to a Ritonya Buscher Poehling grant. Shelley Brown, Our Lady of Lourdes science teacher and a 6-year teaching veteran, was awarded the $960 grant last spring to help purchase a 3D printer for her middle school science classes.

  • The printer will be used by fifth-grade students studying biomes (large ecological areas on the earth’s surface, with fauna and flora (animals and plants)) to create “insects” with adaptations that would allow them to survive in the student’s chosen biome.
  • Seventh-grade students will use Tinkercad, an online CAD program, to design rectangular prisms. The printed prisms will help students calculate and better understand the concept of density.
  • Eighth-grade students will print balloon cars — cars that run on the force of air rushing out of a blown-up balloon — to measure speed and acceleration. Students will be challenged to change the design of the wheels to determine if this change impacts the speed or acceleration of the vehicle.
8th grade OLL Student Kaden Robison prepares to print using the 3D printer

Eighth grade student Kaden Robison prepares to print using the 3D printer.

“3D printing covers all aspects of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum. Students use emerging technology to learn how to design and engineer their own projects using critical math and science concepts,” said Brown. “The possible applications of this technology in the classroom are endless. Moreover, use of this technology helps our students see a future for themselves in a STEM career.”

Cost is one of the greatest barriers to accessing 3D printers for classroom use. Without grant support, Our Lady of Lourdes would not have had the resources available to purchase the printer. Brown has already enacted a plan to provide future funding for printing supplies when the grant funds run out later this school year. The Ritonya Buscher Poehling fund provides mini grants to help metro-area teachers implement their ideas for innovative classroom projects that enhance the teaching profession and learning experience for students.

For more information about the 3D printer or science curriculum, contact: William Kelly, Our Lady of Lourdes principal, or Shelley Brown, science teacher, at 402-341-5604.