Oct. 26--Schools from around the country are learning about the work of West Jefferson Hills elementary teachers Adam Gebhardt and Alexandra Crouse.
Gebhardt and Crouse are changing the way art education is taught at the elementary level and Voya Financial has taken notice. The teachers received a $2,000 Voya Unsung Heroes Grant for innovation teaching and are among 100 finalists in the national program for a $25,000 grand prize.
The national program awards grants to K-12 educators to honor their innovative teaching methods.
"ArtEd21: Art in 3D" focuses on modernizing the art education curriculum at Jefferson Elementary School.
"We're pushing art into the 21st century learning by doing a lot more with technology," said Gebhardt, who teaches at Jefferson.
While students will still paint and draw, 3-D printing will open new avenues for creative designs.
"We're taking the current curriculum and enhancing it," Crouse said.
The 3-D printer at Jefferson is an older version that limits what can be produced. Gebhardt said the $2,000 grant will be used to purchase a new 3-D printer that will enable students to complete more projects.
The current printer works only with plastic; the new can be used with wood, metal, rubber and other surfaces.
At Jefferson, fifth-grade students now use 3-D modeling when studying architecture. Fourth-graders focus on texture and third-graders print coins with a raised design.
Crouse teaches at McClellan and Gill Hall elementary schools. She said the students at McClellan do not get many opportunities to use 3-D printer, but the school will get its own through the grant program. Gill Hall has two printers.
"They are very excited about all the possibilities," Crouse said. "We've been talking about things you can do in everyday life with a 3-D printer."
Students use Tinkercad, an online 3-D design and 3-D printing app, to make three-dimensional forms. The app turns the work into a code and translates it into the printer.
Both teachers say they are still experimenting with the equipment. A flat image with a raised design can take as little as 20 minutes to print. Creating a 3-D building could take five or six hours depending on the size.
"The kids have to work very hard and be patient," Crouse said. "When you sit down and use the program, you realize you need to learn the foundation to do the aesthetics."
Gebhardt learned about the program and wrote an essay that detailed what he wanted to do and how the money would be spent. More than 1,300 educators applied for the award. Now the 100 finalists wait to see if they are one of three top prize winners of $25,000, $10,000 or $5,000.
"Three-D modeling is the future and is something they will need to know," Gebhardt said.
Jim Spezialetti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5805 or email@example.com.
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