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Winning students of ORAU’s 2018 Extreme Classroom Makeover pay it forward

2019 competition launches in October

Patrick Pollock fourth-grade math and science teacher at West View Elementary School with students

Patrick Pollock, fourth-grade math and science teacher at West View Elementary School in Knoxville, believes that with a 21st century classroom, his students will have the opportunity to be immersed in the infinite possibilities of STEM learning. This vision, along with the need to keep up with changing state education standards, was the main theme in his winning video submitted for the 2018 ORAU Extreme Classroom Makeover Contest. 

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.—They’re paying it forward.

The students in Patrick Pollock’s classroom at West View Elementary School didn’t help win $25,000 in new classroom technology for themselves, but for the students who will follow them.

Andy Page, president and CEO of ORAU, shared that sentiment during an open house in the classroom, where students, parents, teachers and community leaders were given a glimpse of the next generation of classrooms.

“I think the kids understand even at their very young age that they are not the direct beneficiaries of the technology that they won,” Page said. “Everybody is paying this forward. We’re paying it forward by investing money in this school.”

What did Pollock buy to outfit his classroom? Event attendees explored learning stations similar to those students will experience during the school year. Among the new tools featured were:

  • Gravity Maze, a fun way to explore gravity and engineering. Challenges increase in difficulty, allowing students to improve logical reasoning, spatial reasoning and planning skills, all through fun game play.
  • BrickLABS Genetics Camp, an interactive way for students to learn about inheritance. Students build their own model family and determine which traits the children will inherit.
  • Merge Cubes, augmented reality devices that use an iPad to allow students to explore in amazing ways. Apps include space exploration and planetarium.
  • Sphero, miniature robotics devices students operate with a tablet to work on collaborative STEM activities.

“This is probably the best thing that could have happened to these kids,” Pollock said. “They can explore, experiment and observe all the different things that have to do with science and the expectations we have with the new standards.

“We realize at ORAU the importance of maintaining students’ interest in and cultivating a passion for STEM subjects,” said ORAU President Andy Page. “By empowering teachers like Patrick Pollock, the Extreme Classroom Makeover helps to demonstrate the countless number of possibilities technology can bring to both educators and students.”

Teachers entering ORAU’s Extreme Classroom Makeover are required to teach 3rd -11th grade math or science and work for a public school located within 50 miles of Oak Ridge. Each teacher must submit a short video illustrating the classroom’s need and explaining how new technology would be used to energize and enhance learning. Applications for the 2019 Extreme Classroom Makeover will open in October.

To view Pollock’s winning video, see the classroom reveal or learn more about Extreme Classroom Makeover, visit

Extreme Classroom Makeover winning class

Watch the classroom reveal at West View Elementary!

In April, ORAU presented West View Elementary School teacher Patrick Pollock with a $25,000 technology makeover during a surprise classroom announcement. In July, we revisited Mr. Pollock's new classroom technology!

About ORAU

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 150 colleges and universities, 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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