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Winner of ORAU’s Extreme Classroom Makeover reveals technologically outfitted classroom

Rocky Hill Elementary School teacher shows why “Chalk is Old School, Technology Rules!”

Bus with sign saying

Rocky Hill Elementary students can’t hide their excitement as ORAU prepares to “MOVE THAT BUS” to reveal 5th grade teacher Mr. Jordan Haney’s new extreme classroom. Click photo to enlarge.

August 11, 2010

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—In the midst of an economic downturn that has proven especially hard for school systems, out-of-date technology is a staple in many classrooms. But, one local elementary school—Rocky Hill—celebrated on Tuesday, as the winning teacher of Oak Ridge Associated Universities’ Extreme Classroom Makeover revealed his newly outfitted classroom full of state-of-the-art technology.

Earlier this year, Jordan Haney, a 5th grade teacher at Rocky Hill, received a $25,000 grant for technology and other enhancements for his classroom. In its second year, the grant highlights and supports educators who use technology in the classroom to inspire more students to pursue math- and science-based careers.

“Looking around this classroom today I’m inspired to see what may very well be future scientists and engineers at work,” said ORAU President Andy Page. “With Mr. Haney’s creativity and impressive knowledge of new technologies, and with ORAU’s commitment to science education, making sure schools, students and teachers have the resources they need, these children can be well on their way to becoming the next-generation science and technology workforce.”

Page and Dr. Jim McIntyre, superintendent of Knox County Schools, along with students from the winning class and incoming 5th graders and their parents, gathered on Tuesday for the big reveal of Mr. Haney’s technologically enhanced classroom. After shouting for the school bus driver to “MOVE THAT BUS,” students and parents raced down the balloon-lined sidewalk and into the classroom where Ms. Callard, a teacher participating in Mr. Haney’s ePal program, an e-mail based pen pal program, waited on screen on the interactive whiteboard to greet them live via video telecast from her classroom in Paris, France.

Throughout the reveal, attendees explored 11 different stations that showcased the new technology and allowed them to test Haney’s arsenal of new learning tools. Participants at one station raced against each other to find the definition of a given word. The challenge was to see who could do it the fastest: the student using a 5-inch-thick dictionary or the student navigating a dictionary application on a brand new iPad. Complementing the makeover competition’s theme of “Chalk is Old School, Technology Rules,” the activity illustrated the speed of new technology in the classroom.

“As a result of the makeover, my students now have a vast amount of information at their fingertips,” said Haney. “Not only am I able to take advantage of the endless educational content on the Web, but I will get to see the looks on my students’ faces as they discover new ways to learn.”

With Tennessee’s education system benefiting from Phase 1 of the Obama Administration’s Race to the Top competition, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and teacher professional development are common school reform topics. ORAU hopes that other businesses will also answer the call to support the state’s public schools.

“I truly appreciate ORAU’s investment in Rocky Hill Elementary,” said McIntyre. “This is an extraordinary example of what can be accomplished when higher education, the business community and schools come together around excellent instruction. I am excited to see how these technology enhancements can make a difference for student learning in the classroom, and this will be a wonderful way for Rocky Hill Elementary to begin its school year.”

This is the second year ORAU has sponsored the Extreme Classroom Makeover project. Last year’s winner was Jenny Alvey, a 6th grade science teacher at Gresham Middle School. Contestants entering ORAU’s competition must teach 5th-8th grade math or science for a public school located within 50 miles of Oak Ridge. Additionally, each teacher must submit a short video illustrating the classroom’s need and explaining how the new technologies would be used to energize and enhance learning.

View Mr. Haney’s winning video

The next ORAU Extreme Classroom Makeover contest will take place in 2011. A call for “Intents to Apply” will be announced later this fall at

ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Interested in applying for the 2011 Extreme Classroom Makeover?
Check back this fall to submit your intent to apply!

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