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Innovative Educator: Garden City teacher strives to develop the engineers of the future

Teacher Allyson Maynard combines creativity, science, math, and even cardboard, to give her young engineers exciting new learning experiences.

GARDEN CITY, Idaho — Editor's note: This content is sponsored by Idaho CapEd Credit Union.

The sixth-graders in Allyson Maynard's class at Future Public Charter School in Garden City are thinking outside the box, from inside the box: Literally.

"They're problem-solving, they're having to think on their feet, they're having to iterate quickly," Maynard said.

The students use math and science skills and creativity to construct a whole host of things out of cardboard boxes.

"There's a submarine, a couple of rocket ships. There are some really cool buildings. There are some vehicles. There's a really cool cardboard tree," Maynard said.

The sixth graders are making their cardboard creations for a day of books and games for the younger students at the school. The project is inspired by the Global Cardboard Challenge.

"They love it," Maynard said.

According to the Cardboard Challenge website, it was created to raise a new generation of innovators and problem solvers. That fits just fine with Maynard's and Future's philosophy. She says the K-6 school, which is now in its fourth year, is here to educate the engineers of the future. They even call their students engineers.

"Because we believe that they are the problem-solvers, the innovators, the ones that are really going to build and grow our community as they grow," she said.

Maynard teaches computer science and design.

"I love that I get to be creative and come up with projects that are exciting to students," Maynard said.

That goes for her next project, too. She received a CapEd Credit Union grant to buy science tools, including a high-tech sensor set, to create a mobile, outdoor lab to study things like the nearby Boise River.

"One of the things I'm excited to use these sensors for is to be able to get us outside of the building to get us doing some environmental science," Maynard said. "We get to learn a little bit about the river and some of the components of water quality aspects, and we'll get to do that using these really cool digital tools."

It proves Maynard doesn't like to be boxed in, except for the cardboard project, of course.

"I think maybe that's one of the things that keeps me coming back to teaching is that I don't think in my 16 years that I've done the same thing twice," she said.

If you would like to nominate an Innovative Educator who is going above and beyond, send us an email to innovativeeducator@ktvb.com. Educators, for more information on submitting an application for a classroom grant through the Idaho CapEd Foundation, visit www.capedfoundation.org.

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