b-Cubed Teacher Projects

Business, Benicia Education Foundation & Benicia Unified

Connects local businesses directly with innovative classroom projects

Project 1: Maker Space at Liberty High School

TEACHER: Nicci Nunes/ Rasperry Pi Technology, Liberty High School: $1,900

Nicci’s students at the continuation high school have had bumps and obstacles on the road to their high school diplomas. They need experiences that broaden their horizons and allow them to learn skills that can open doors to college and careers. Working with the Raspberry Pi will teach her students how computers work, how to manipulate the electronic world around them, and how to program. Nicci wants to inspire her students to create and innovate, and to help them develop confidence in themselves and their ability to use 21st century technology.

A b-Cubed sponsor will help her purchase kits using Raspberry Pi, a credit-card sized computer that plugs into a TV screen, and a keyboard which can be used for inventive electronics projects. These kits will allow her students to learn how computers work, how to manipulate the electronic world around them, and how to program – all skills that prepare them for jobs of the future.

Funds will be used to purchase Adafruit Raspberry Pi Model B Starter Pack that included 20 Rasperry Pi at $94.46. Total purchase is $1,899.20.

Youtube reference to Raspberry Pi:


Project 2: Robots Invade Benicia High

Funded! by RIX Industries

TEACHER: Andreas Kaiser: BHS Engineering and Robotics: BHS: $1,000  

Andreas has started an innovative engineering program at Benicia High School where students will learn real world application in mechanical design, electronics, and computer programming. He currently has four robotics kits to share with three classes, which just isn’t enough to serve all of his students. His goal for all students is to have hands on experience with robotics, but he has no budget. He’s researched an affordable option that allows students to build, program, and modify their own robots. To make learning fun, students will modify the hardware and software to program robots to complete a set of tasks and compete against each other in games such as Robot Soccer. Although students will have guidance from Andreas, their task is to collaborate in pairs to follow instructions, build the robots, program them and solve problems on their own.

The funds will purchase a classroom pack of 14 robots for $1,000. (One pack was recently funded by the Solano Community Foundation)

Link to robots: http://www.stemcenterusa.com/pi-bot/about-pi-bot/

Video: http://youtu.be/sP5hyTBj7Wo


Project 3: World Histoy Class Cold War Simulation Benicia High

Funded! by RIX Industries

TEACHER: Edward Coyne (Teacher of the Year) BHS: $750-$1,000

For the past six years this simulation has challenged junior and sophomore students to apply the skills and information that they learn in their history classes in a race to crack nuclear codes and ensure their own survival, all within the context of a problem-based learning project on a municipal scale. This is an all-encompassing community-wide project that incorporates cross-curricular skills as students experience the tension and paranoia of the Cold War. This project provides for one of the most memorable learning experiences: one that alumni still talk about and reflect upon even years beyond graduation. It transcends the classroom walls, and changes the lives of more than 250 students each year across eight World History, AP European History, US History and AP US History classes. At the culmination of the experience, students write illustrated children’s books about this time in history, and read them to elementary school students at Mary Farmar.

Mr. Coyne who was recently voted “Teacher of the Year,” often pays out of pocket for this experience. A grant of $750 will pay for travel expenses, classroom supplies, construction of a push-pin wall, costumes, props, and field trip expenses. This modest donation will help ensure that they continue to design, develop and execute the project for years to come


Project 2: 21st Century Mathematics  Classroom

TEACHER: Carleen Maselli, Mathmatics, BHS: $1,800

When it comes to mathematics, how often have you heard: “When are we ever going to have to use this?” Carleen Maselli is not the only teacher to hear this. Students should explore mathematics in a variety of ways. She hopes to do this through the use of ChromeBooks that create equal access for all students to dynamic math software, apps, educational websites and project-based learning. Students learn better when they can apply math in a way that is meaningful and makes sense, and it gives them confidence to conquer any math problem that comes their way.

Approximately 90-150 students will be served in Carleen’s Geometry and Trigonometry/Probability and Statistics classes at Benicia High School. Carleen is one of the few teachers to “flip” her classroom so that lesson review is done at home, and hands-on work is done in the classroom. ChromeBooks will allow her to integrate technology seamlessly into the classroom, giving access to graphing applications, dynamic geometry software, math websites and Project-Based Learning.
Grant funding in the amount of $1,800 would underwrite the purchase of six ChromeBooks at a cost of approximately $300 each, which combined with existing devices would allow one per pair of students.

Project 5: Listening to Books Brings Reading to Life at Robert Semple

TEACHERS: Kelly Brown, Karen Thompson, Michelle Benki-Chapman, RS: $1,300

Listening to reading brings the pages of a book to life! Our project goal is to set up Listening Centers in each of our first grade classrooms at Robert Semple Elementary. The CD players, headphones, and audio splitters will allow students to develop their listening and speaking skills during our daily Literacy Centers. Listening to fluent reading will help our first graders with their intonation and inflection as they are learning to read. Making reading exciting is the key to growing lifelong readers!

This grant will serve 72 first graders from three first grade classrooms each year at Robert Semple Elementary, a Title I School. Our students come from a variety of households and struggle with many different hurdles that can affect their ability to learn. With our classrooms being so diverse, we work very hard to differentiate our instruction to meet the needs of all learners through a range of modalities.

Research shows that one of the most effective ways to develop speaking and reading fluency is by listening to appropriate language. By listening to and reading along with familiar stories, children develop a greater sense of confidence and willingness to take chances. Using audio books exposes students to text that is beyond their reading ability but that challenges their vocabulary and comprehension. That way, struggling readers have the chance to learn to love literature. These Learning Centers with child-friendly, durable CD players, paired with appropriate texts can introduce children to new genres and cultivate critical listening skills. Listening to reading provides a pathway to reading success!

A grant for $1,300 will pay for a portable CD player, Listening Center Headphones (set of 8), and a stereo Splitter Cable that will serve students for several years.