P.S. 70 vies to get ‘SMART’


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com |

The students of P.S. 70 are competing to make their school a SMART-er place.

The school, located at 30-45 42nd Street in Astoria, is currently contending for a $10,000 education grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project, which will be used to purchase approximately five SMART Boards – interactive whiteboards used in classrooms.

“We live in a world driven by technology, and our public school kids need access to technology in the classroom to help them achieve their academic potential,” said Jennifer Franz, who teaches English as a second language at P.S. 70. “SMART Boards bring classrooms alive through interactive lessons and amazing videos and graphics.”

According to Franz, the boards will impact children from 20 different language backgrounds and will be particularly useful for students in her class who are not native English speakers.

“SMART Boards have been a real asset to the school,” she said. “We have some already, so that’s why we are trying to get more. For kids whose second language is English, which we have a high population of at P.S. 70, SMART Boards are really useful because they have visual aids. Since they don’t speak English very well, they can watch the videos. It is not meaningful for a student that doesn’t speak English well to have a text book in front of them.”

If the school wins, a portion of the money will also go towards purchasing wall support mounts and SMART Board training sessions.

In total, 60 grants of varying monetary amounts, totaling roughly $1.2 million, are awarded every month across four categories – education, arts and music, communities and Pepsi challenge. They are made possible through a partnership between Pepsi, GlobalGiving, an online marketplace that allows people to contribute to and connect with causes they are passionate about, and GOOD, an integrated media platform designed for people who want to live well and perform good deeds.

P.S. 70 applied for the grant by submitting their “smart” idea on October 1.

After a random selection process, during which a limitless pool of ideas was narrowed down to 1,500, the remaining candidates were provided their own website, where the public can vote for their proposal.

To persuade people to vote for their school, the students made a silent film promoting their idea.

In order to win the grant, P.S. 70 has to place in the top 15 in votes by the November 30 deadline. On November 3, they began the competition ranked 81st. As of press time on November 16, P.S. 70 was ranked 34th.

“The kids are pretty excited about the contest, especially since they can go online and check our rank,” Franz said. “They are always telling me and other teachers all the people they are getting to vote. I’m pretty optimistic that we will win, because we are a big school. The parents and teachers are very supportive and the kids are excited. If we can get the community involved, then we have a pretty good shot at winning. People want to support public schools, so this is a good opportunity for them to do so.”

To vote for P.S. 70’s idea, visit http://www.refresheverything.com/smartboards-smartkids or text 109416 to 73774.