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Extreme Classroom Makeover winner Burkhart celebrates completion of technology upgrades

Open house event at Pigeon Forge Middle School allows
5th graders to demonstrate latest classroom technology

August 8, 2012

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn.—“Are you more tech-savvy than a 5th grader,” was the test for visitors at the Tuesday, Aug. 7 reveal of the Heather Burkhart’s newly outfitted classroom full of state-of the-art technology. Burkhart, a 5th grade math and science teacher at Pigeon Forge Middle School, was the winner of this year’s $30,000 grant from Oak Ridge Associated Universities’ Extreme Classroom Makeover competition.

In its fourth year, the grant highlights and supports educators who use technology in the classroom to inspire more students to pursue math and science-based careers.

“We realize at ORAU that in order for students to spark and then maintain an interest in subjects such as math and science, the learning has to be engaging and innovative,” said ORAU President Andy Page. “By bringing technology into the classroom and arming teachers like Mrs. Burkhart with the tools they need, the Extreme Classroom Makeover helps demonstrate the importance and countless number of possibilities technology can bring to both teachers and students.”

Page, faculty and staff of area schools, and members of the Sevier County School Board joined students from the winning class and their parents for the big reveal of Mrs. Burkhart’s technologically enhanced classroom.

The 5th grade teacher spent the summer selecting her new technology, installing it in her classroom and preparing for her new class of rising 5th graders. Her arsenal of learning technology was on full display during the reveal.

Following the theme, “Are YOU more tech-savvy than a 5th grader?” attendees explored stations showcasing Burkhart’s new technology and competed against members of Burkhart’s winning 5th grade class in the following areas:

  • testing their knowledge of technology history
  • racing to complete multiplication tables
  • exploring Burkhart’s virtual classroom
  • flipping through interactive books in the virtual library.

“The limitless possibilities for using this technology in my classroom are incredibly exciting,“ said Burkhart. “Thanks to ORAU, and with the extensive research I completed over the summer, I will be able to open a whole new world of math and science to my students, which will help them to become more enthusiastic about learning.“

Contest winners for the previous years include Herman Sutton, a 5th grade math teacher at Green Magnet Math and Science Academy; Jordan Haney, a 5th grade teacher at Rocky Hill Elementary School; and Jenny Alvey, a 6th grade science teacher from Gresham Middle School. Contestants entering ORAU’s competition were required to teach 5th-8th grade math or science for and work for a public school located within 50 miles of Oak Ridge. Additionally, each teacher submitted a short video illustrating the classroom’s need and explaining how the new technologies would be used to energize and enhance learning. To view Mrs. Burkhart’s winning video go to the 2012 Extreme Classroom Makeover Video page.

Another ORAU Extreme Classroom Makeover contest will take place in 2013 and “Intents to Apply“ will be accepted beginning Wednesday, Aug. 8.

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).

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