SERF Sudbury

Group OKs Grant Proposals from Sudbury Students

SUDBURY – Robots, a gaga pit, and a library of things are coming soon to town schools, thanks to grant proposals crafted by elementary and middle school students.

For the first time, the Sudbury Education Resource Fund (SERF) allowed students to submit grant ideas up to $1,000 this fall. Nearly 80 grant proposals were received across the district, which includes Nixon, Noyes, Haynes, and Loring elementary schools and Curtis Middle School. The winning proposals — one from each elementary school and Curtis Middle School — were announced at each school last week.

“Student submissions reflected creativity and thoughtfulness toward their peers, their community, and the world at large. Through this unique initiative, students were valued as thinkers and empowered to take action, as well as gained some perspective on a process their own teachers go through to bring innovative and enriching ideas to their schools,” said Laura Porter, SERF co-President, in a statement.

At Haynes, a student proposed using the grant money to purchase app-enabled robots. The Sphero Mini Education kit, which includes 16 clear robotic balls with gyroscopes, accelerometers, and LED lights, as well as bumpers, mini traffic cones, bowling pins, construction sets, and activity cards, will help spark creativity through discovery, play, and to add to students’ foundation for computer science skills. The kits, accessible to all classes at Haynes, will give students practice controlling the robots with their own commands.

Curtis students wanted SERF to spend the money on bringing a gaga pit to the school. The octagonal pit is a place for kids to play “gaga” — meant to be a gentler version of dodge ball where players try to hit their opponents with a soft foam ball below the knees. According to SERF, the game will add a “fun, engaging, and inclusive option to students’ outdoor recess and indoor P.E. time.”

A “library of things” will soon be at Nixon, after a student suggested it as a way “to introduce kids to something they’ve never done before or have always wanted to try but didn’t have the tools.” Students could borrow items to explore new areas of interest and learn new skills. Suggested items include a ukulele, a microscope, and a telescope.

At Loring, three 3D printers will be funded to complement the school’s new Learning Studio. The new 3D printers can enhance the curriculum while also giving young students early exposure to an advanced tool that will one day be an integral part of their school and work. Some opportunities could include designing and creating interactive maps, creating mock-ups of buildings and structures, and creating new musical instruments or new tools.

At Noyes, over 30 students submitted ideas on how they’d make use of the grant funding. The winning grant, a “Get to Know Your School” scavenger hunt, will give all students a shared appreciation of their school building. The in-house customized scavenger hunt will give students practice with map-reading and team-building skills, as they explore areas in and around their own school.

Since 1991, SERF has funded grants dedicating to improving public education across Sudbury Public Schools and at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School (LSRHS). To learn more about these and the many other projects funded by SERF or to make a donation, visit us at