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2023 ORAU Extreme Classroom Makeover winning teacher hosts open house to showcase new tech

Fourth grade teacher Danielle Roderick of Catlettsburg Elementary in Kodak, Tennessee, and her students display some of their new technology as 2023 winners of ORAU’s Extreme Classroom Makeover grand prize

Thanks to ORAU’s Extreme Classroom Makeover program, East Tennessee STEM teachers get to dream a little about what they would do with $25,000 to shop for their classrooms.

Fourth grade teacher Danielle Roderick of Catlettsburg Elementary in Kodak, Tennessee, was the 2023 winner of ORAU’s Extreme Classroom Makeover grand prize of $25,000, plus, she was selected to receive the viewer’s choice award for $2,500. So, using a budget of $27,500, Roderick purchased new technology including an interactive projector that turns the floor into a giant touch-screen computer, iPads, a podcasting set-up, robotics and coding equipment, virtual reality headsets, and a large-scale laser printer.

Roderick was selected in March, and her purchases came in over the summer. She held an open house to show off how everything works and how her students are integrating the technology into their lessons. “We found that our students learn best with hands-on activities and movement, so they are fully immersed in what they are doing,” Roderick explained.

Her class agreed. Fourth grade student Norah Kendall said her favorite thing to do in Mrs. Roderick’s class is an activity with the interactive projector: “I think it’s really cool that during class time we get to use all of this stuff,” Kendall said. “It’s learning with fun—those two combinations are the best!”

ORAU started the Extreme Classroom Makeover program in 2009 as a part of the company’s efforts to strengthen and encourage STEM education throughout East Tennessee. Since that time, ORAU has donated more than $470,000 to area schools through this initiative. The next competition opens in November. To qualify, applicants must teach a STEM subject for 3rd through 10th grade and work for a public school within 50 miles of Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

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About ORAU

ORAU, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, provides science, health, and workforce solutions that address national priorities and serve the public interest. Through our specialized teams of experts and access to a consortium of more than 150 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local, and commercial customers to provide innovative scientific and technical solutions and help advance their missions. ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

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