Project from i3 New Tech Academy Earns National Recognition

August 13, 2016

What do you get when you combine project-based learning, teaching that goes far beyond the blackboard and a three-legged dog? You get a “Best-In-Network” winner!

Students from i3 New Tech Academy, a Flagship Program of Flagler Palm Coast High School have worked with teacher Courtney VandeBunte on the “Prosthetics for Paws” project. Various teams from VandeBunte’s Anatomy of Design course have worked to outfit “Champ,” a three-legged German Shepherd with a new leg created from 3-D printers.

VandeBunte submitted a video of the project to New Tech Network. That submission was reviewed by a 15-person committee which then named VandeBunte Best in Network.  According to New Tech Network, the Best in Network educator “exemplifies the goal of a seamless blending of active exploration, application and authenticity with academic rigor that is thoughtful both in learning and assessment practices. A project worthy of this award creates an exemplary learning opportunity as chosen by a committee of peers.”

One committee member wrote “the learning was so authentic and engaging. As the facilitator, she set up so many scaffolds and ways for the students to get feedback. It is the perfect example of a (Project Based Learning) project with every learning outcome addressed.”

The project is funded by a $5,000 grant from Motorola Solutions Foundation through the Flagler County Education Foundation. Business partners lending expertise and feedback throughout the project include Arrow Rehabilitation, Full Stride Veterinary Clinic and Forge 3D Printing.

Of VandeBunte and the project, Deborah Williams, Executive Director of the Flagler County Education Foundation says “Ms. VandeBunte created partnerships with businesses to assist students throughout the design process. Students interacted directly with the experts, seeking information to create the best design solutions. Participating partners walked away with a positive feeling about the quality of education available in Flagler County public schools. Smart businesses will be recruiting our students before competitors take them away!”

The “Prosthetics for Paws” project is an exemplary model for both teachers and students across the entire New Tech Network of 175 schools. We loved that students were asked to learn academic content and then apply that knowledge to meet a specific need in their community; to find a solution that hadn’t yet been created. This terrific approach to Project Based Learning shows tremendous creativity by their teacher and great ingenuity by the students. Bravo to Ms. VandeBunte,” said President and CEO of New Tech Network Lydia Dobyns.

VandeBunte, Flagler Palm Coast High School’s Teacher of the Year and her students have been invited to show off their project at this year’s New Tech Annual Conference, to be held in Orlando July 11-14.

Founded in Napa, California in 1996, New Tech is made up of approximately 175 schools in 28 states and Australia.

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