By Rick Palsgrove
Elmo has nothing on Grover.
Particularly the Grovers being built by Groveport Madison High School seniors Teyris King, Deja Pace-Thomas, Bianca Tanksley and Mouniratou Nikiema.
A Grover is a document and object projector that provides visually enlarged images that teachers may use for instructing students. The Grover connects to a computer and projects the images onto a smartboard in the classroom for students to observe all at once.
An Elmo does the same thing, except Elmos, according to the students, cost $325 each while the Grovers, hand built by these students from unused and discarded overhead projectors and other spare parts, cost only $11 a piece.
“The $11 covers the cost for the camera,” said teacher Thea Patrick, who has been the advisor on this project since it began four years ago.
“Everything else to make a Grover comes from recycled existing materials,” said Pace-Thomas. “Another advantage is that, unlike an Elmo, a Grover can record a lesson and teachers can replay it back later.”
The name, Grover, is derived from “Groveport” and also is a nod to the Elmo.
Patrick said the four students have made more than 30 Grovers in four years that are being used in Groveport Madison classrooms in all 12 grades. She said they are in the process of making 14 more.
“It can be used in any kind of class. Art teachers can use it for demonstrations. Science teachers can use it for experiments,” said Patrick. “It’s versatile.”
King said originally finding the right materials to make a Grover was a challenge.
“We weren’t sure what would work, so tried different things and approaches,” said King. “Then it all came together.”
The students said they enjoy making the Grovers and are happy their efforts are making a difference.
“It’s nice to know they are being used in the schools,” said King.
Pace-Thomas said, “It’s an inexpensive way to be creative and to save the district money.”
“I like being able to help other students,” said Tanksley. “It’s a cool tech project to be involved with.”
Patrick said the Grover project is teaching the students a variety of skills.
“These are some of our top students,” said Patrick. “This project is broadening their technical skills, business skills and English skills because they have to build the Grovers, handle inventory and materials, and then present and explain the Grover to the people who will be using them. These are all skills that will translate into their future academic and professional careers.”
Tanksley said the project is a good resume builder and gives her a good grounding for handling future projects.
Pace-Thomas said the experience will enable her to show future employers that she can find innovative ways to save money while creating products.
“Plus,” added King, “it has taught us how to be successful at improvising.”