Buerkle launches #HandNHand community project

Buerkle launches #HandNHand community project
Posted on 10/16/2019
Buerkle HandNHand LaunchMargaret Buerkle Middle School students have launched their #HandNHand project, a school-wide effort to team students up with community organizations. The project is being funded by a $60,931 grant awarded to the school earlier this year

The school is partnering students with 16 organizations: Feed my People, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse - St. Louis Area (NCADA), Team Activities for Special Kids (TASK), Stream Team, Arbors, American Cancer Society, ICare, Animal Protections Association of Missouri, The BackStoppers, Cardinal Care, Humane Society of Missouri, Make a Wish Missouri/Kansas, Nurses for Newborns, St. Louis Zoo, Open Door Animal Sanctuary and World Bird Sanctuary. Students will learn about the organization and then work on ways to help the organization achieve its mission. 

On the first day of school, students chose organizations of interest to them. Today they met with fellow students who shared an interest in the same organization. These communities of students focused on getting to know each other, team-building and preparing for next month's activities.

“We met our communities, which was tricky because our communities are made of a lot of different grade levels who are unfamiliar with each other and unfamiliar with the things we are doing,” 6th grade teacher Ericka Gulden said.

Next month students will be taking a field experience to their organization to gather information to determine what they can do to help.

“They’re going to get video footage, interview people, record some things with tablets and find out everything they can,” computer literacy teacher Cathy Schultz said. 

After returning from the field experience, each community of students will work together to determine the major needs of the organization and begin brainstorming how they can help the organization.

“It may be building things or figuring out ways to generate extra income,” Gulden said. “The brainstorming piece is completely up to them. The teachers are there to facilitate these conversations and help them along the way in exploring the possibilities.”

The grant from Innovative Technology Education Fund provides students with equipment and services to make the #HandNHand Project possible. Funds provide professional development for teachers, transportation to field experiences, a 3-D printer, 360-degree cameras, and more. It also pays for a plastic reclamation machine, which recycles plastic into filament for the 3-D printer. 

Schultz and Gulden are among the six teachers to develop the idea for the school-wide project and apply for the grant. Others include Cheryl Tentschert, Susan Weedman, Trish Wells and Joan Wright. 

Students will work with their #HandNHand communities on each early release day throughout the school year and will present their culminating project at a rally with their communities and organizations at the end of the school year.

Today’s launch also featured a pep rally featuring team-building activities for students. Watch the video to check out photos from the event and learn more about the #HandNHand project.
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