A $7,000 gift to the Summit STEM Living Library Museum will create "virtual travel" opportunities for Reynoldsburg elementary school students and will foster connections with students and teachers across the country.
Librarian Rhonda Eberst said the money will be used to create the Stan Klassen Virtual Learning Center at the school library. She said a class reunion led to the gift.
"I graduated from Jackson Hole High School in Wyoming in 1977," Eberst said. "There were 98 or 99 students in our graduating class. About 90 percent of us went to kindergarten together."
She said Stan Klassen was a much-loved teacher at the school.
"When I went to my class reunion two years ago, Mr. Klassen had just passed away," she said. "He loved learning and travel and had created a sister city program at the school."
She said the class began collecting money in Klassen's honor to possibly establish a scholarship fund.
"I recently got an email from a classmate who said they had decided to give the money to our museum at Summit Road, to create virtual travel opportunities in Mr. Klassen's honor," she said.
Summit Road's school library is more a museum than a library, although it has plenty of books. Displays on top of bookshelves and on tables demonstrate the history of technology from "old to new," including antique telegraph mach-ines, manual and electric typewriters, early computers, fax machines, a full-size phone booth and telephones that range in style from old crank models to a smart phone.
Eberst said plans are still forming for the new virtual learning section.
"We hope to have an extended learning room, where we might put on YouTube or on websites different challenges and lessons in STEM and create learning partnerships with classrooms across the country," she said. "One of our teachers could be teaching something online that kids in another state could learn simultaneously with our students."
She has made arrangements to partner with an elementary school in Jackson Hole and with schools in Georgia and Alabama. She also is planning partnerships with other Reynoldsburg elementary schools.
"We are still looking at what kind of technology we will need, whether a class will come down and sit with a camera or Skype live what they are doing," she said. "Our main investment will likely be the technology we will need to get this started."
School Principal Dee Martindale said she loves the idea of using the gift for virtual travel.
"As a STEM-focused school, we look for opportunities to integrate technology into our daily learning," she said. "By connecting virtually with other schools, we can increase our students' awareness of what takes place in classrooms across the country and improve their communication skills as they share learning with others."
An open house to officially open the "STEM Living Library Museum" is scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m. May 16.
"Our students have been working with the high school students at the Fab Lab to create interactive display areas," Eberst said.
"There will be more hands-on displays, so that when you walk through the museum, kids will be able to type a memo on a manual typewriter or play a video game on an Atari, to help show the evolution of technology."
Martindale said the school hosts hundreds of educators each year who are interested in the STEM curriculum.
"The library is one of their most talked-about stops on our school tour," she said. "I love that as soon as you step into the space, you are immediately intrigued with the bright, colorful space and all the items on display.
"It piques your curiosity, looks fun and inviting and has you asking questions -- like we hope the school does for our students every day," she said.
"I like how we have created a visual timeline with the STEM-themed objects on display to show our students the evolution of technology and help them better understand the design process."
Martindale said students seem fascinated by the rotary phones and the full-size phone booth.
"They ask, 'Where is the send button? How do you text?' We hope to use the items on display to also help them imagine what could be next," she said.