CALDWELL, Idaho — Editor's note: This content is sponsored by CapEd Credit Union
Syringa Middle School seventh-grader Abner Spencer designed and 3D printed a mini model of his cycling safety wall.
"So bikers don't get ran over by cars and don't get hit as much," Spencer explained.
Natalia Valencia was part of Syringa's all-girl team that took first place in the 2022 Idaho Exhibition of Ideas. They designed a device to help astronauts brush their teeth in zero gravity because astronauts can't just spit out their toothpaste.
"We came up with a thing where they just put their mouth on the little tube and it sucks it out," Valencia said.
Abner and Natalia are students of science, English language arts and 3D printing teacher Kristy Rudan.
With 3D printing, Rudan says it's important the project draws the students in.
"Once they get into it and they're exploring it they're more likely to want to expand their knowledge and try new things, Rudan said."
She focuses on invention, science and entrepreneurship.
"So that if they want to open a small business, they can," Rudan said. "They can open a small business and sell it. We have a lot of students interested in doing that, as well as creating and designing things that solve problems."
Such as Abner's cycling safety wall.
"Yes. Using the solar power to create something that lights up to keep people safe, Rudan said."
Rudan teaches a 3D printing elective, hosts the after-school 3D printing club for all kids, no matter their grade.
"It's a place they can come have fun, be safe and learn about STEM," Rudan said.
She also runs 3D printing summer camps.
"They fill up really fast so we just keep adding camps and adding camps so that we can get as many kids in as possible," Rudan said.
For all her work the Idaho STEM Action Center chose her as one of two Idaho teachers to receive a 2022 Industry's Excellent Educators Dedicated to STEM award, or INDEEDS for short.
"It's a special recognition for the efforts that go into teaching our kids and exposing them to the world of STEM and all the hard work that goes into it on the students' side as well as my side," Rudan said.
A well-deserved honor for a teacher making a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math imprint on her students.
"I love the variety of things that you get to do and the creativity that you get to use, and seeing that creativity spark in the students," Rudan said.
Kristy Rudan has received two CapEd Foundation grants in recent years for a couple different projects.
Educators, for information on submitting an application for a classroom grant through the Idaho CapEd Foundation, visit www.capedfoundation.org.
If you would like to nominate an Innovative Educator, send us an email to email@example.com.
Watch more 'Innovative Educators':
See every episode in our YouTube playlist: