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Sidney teacher earns innovation award


Sidney Schools technology integration teacher Rick Meyer received a $2,000 grant for his efforts to use technology in creative ways.

The grant, awarded by ING, a national financial institution is called the ING Unsung Heroes Award.

"Since I applied for it in January, with how fast technology goes, my original idea is not even close to what we're doing now," Meyer said. "But the same premise is still in place."

Originally he wanted to use QR codes, which can be scanned by any smart device and take the user to a webit. His idea was to create QR codes for library books, which would take the user to a book report done by another student.

"The kids would do book reports and we'd paste the little QR code on a book and they could actually see a book report done by somebody," Meyer said.

After that he discovered another phone or computer application called Aurasma. He thought this was 10 times better than a QR code because it's showier and makes less work for him.

"My idea for this is from second grade all the way to sixth grade. I'd like kids to, when they read a book, to come to me with a book review," Meyer said.

These would be very short reviews which would last about 15 seconds. The students would say why they like the book on video, or just on audio if the parents object. Through the Aurasma application, the video is overlaid onto an object, such as the book itself.

"It sounds very complicated but it's really not," Meyer said.

He brought an iPad to show the council.

"You see the video pop up right on the picture of the book," Meyer said. "Which is far cooler than a QR code."

The video then continues looping.

"Any copy of this book, it'll work on as long as you subscribe to my Aurasma channel," Meyer said.

He would like to broaden the scope of the project by setting something up with the public library. Meyer's plan is to print out an "A" sticker to put on all library books that have been reviewed to let kids know that it can be found through the Aurasma application.

"When parents and kids go in there and they see a book with an "A" on it, they can pull it out and take out their phone or their iPad or whatever and find a book review on it," Meyer said.

If students see that there is no review, it might prompt them to read that book and do a review on it.

Board members congratulated Meyer on his efforts to win the grant.

"One of the things I like about it is, it encourages kids to read," said board member Doug Means.

Three of the grant's winners cam from Nebraska. Meyer expects to receive the grant money in October. Now he is in the running for a national award which will be decided in October that could win him up to $25,000 more in grant dollars. He will buy eight iPod touches with the initial grant money. This will allow students to make more videos. Meyer spoke with another teacher in Scottsbluff about possibly expanding the project and working together with teachers and students there.

"My project is really blossoming from where it started, which is super exciting," Meyer said.

He's hoping to get started in the next few weeks.

"It's a pretty talented thing to put together there," said Sidney school superintendent Jay Ehler.

"There's a lot of excitement for it," Meyer said. "I'm super excited to see the kids get it and it's super quick."


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