The Slice – Spring 2023

PiE-Funded Innovation Grants Awarded

Since 1987, PiE has awarded $1.4 million to PAUSD teachers, staff, and affiliated PAUSD groups for innovative and collaborative projects that benefit multiple classes, grades, and schools. The Innovation Grants committee, composed of current and former PiE Board members, takes equity, reach, sustainability, replicability, collaboration, and future impact into account when awarding grants.

This past spring PiE received many excellent applications, and chose to fund nine innovative projects across PAUSD totalling $23,050. 

Here are the exciting projects that were funded!

Elementary Schools:

  • TK/K Early Identification for Vision Challenges – All TK and K students: Photoscreener that  screens for several vision problems earlier so that students can be referred to an eye specialist to prevent potential difficulties with reading.
  • Aeroponic Classroom Garden: Drought Friendly Harvests – Palo Verde: Indoor aeroponic gardening system and several harvesting tools for a grade level of students so that they may engage in learning about drought friendly gardening, followed by a harvest celebration.
  • Science Specimens Library – Ohlone: An outdoor library that serves as a home for specimens (hummingbird nests, hawk feathers, dead butterflies, etc.) students collect on the farm, and related books.

Middle Schools:

  • Middle School Coffee Cart – Greene: Real-world practice, as well as social and communicative skills, for students in the The Futures program. The Futures program is a life-skills, community-based instruction program serving the moderate-severe population in PAUSD. 
  • Exponent Escape Rooms – Greene: “Escape Room” kits and scientific calculators to help students learn about rational exponents and exponent rules in 8th grade Algebra.

High Schools:

  • Electric Car Conversion – Paly: Converting and building an electric golf cart and go kart from lead acid batteries to lithium batteries.
  • Art and Tech Box (Science Dept Beautification) – Gunn: Art students working with science teachers to create science-themed designs for tech and media carts in the science department.
  • AP Bio 3D Molecular Model Kits – Paly: Hands-on molecular modeling materials for AP Biology students to support the biochemistry, cell structure and function, cell communication, and gene expression curriculum.
  • Kids with Domesticated Animals – Gunn: Pilot project through a student’s Advanced Authentic Research Project (AAR) for regular visits from therapy dogs organized by Kids with Domesticated Animals (KWDA), in order to promote students’ mental health and give students the opportunity to learn about animal behavior.


Harry Potter STEAM Project: Snapshot of a 2022 PiE-Funded Grant

PiE grant recipients are required to submit follow-up evaluations of their projects. The Harry Potter STEAM Project that was funded in Spring of 2022 was a big hit at Ohlone Elementary School! 2nd and 3rd graders were inspired to improve their reading, writing, math, science, coding, creativity, collaboration, and social-emotional skills with 15 fun Harry Potter-themed hands-on classroom activities. 

Students practiced multiplication, division, and mental math through a Quidditch Pointer math game, and measured ingredients precisely while assembling magic potions.

They developed their real-world problem-solving skills through a series of science experiments from the series including Harry Potter coding wands, golden snitch catapults, Wingardium Leviosar, butterbeer slime, Quidditch pitches, flying cars, and more!

Students showed a high level of interest and enthusiasm throughout the Harry Potter STEAM project. They solved real-world problems, answered complex questions, and ultimately demonstrated their knowledge and skills with a presentation to a real audience composed of parents, staff and students from other classes. The Harry Potter STEAM project unleashed a contagious, creative energy among the students at Ohlone!