7 SLO County schools get innovation grants — for virtual reality, music recording and more

Student in seven schools in San Luis Obispo, Los Osos and Morro Bay are receiving private grants totaling about $50,000 to help prepare them for an evolving technological and innovative workforce — covering for gaps in funding from the loss of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant revenue.

The San Luis Coastal Education Foundation made stops at each of the recipient schools Tuesday in the San Luis Coastal Unified School District, where grants up to $10,000 are being awarded for “hands-on learning opportunities.”

Funding will help pay for projects that include using virtual reality devices to take immersive field trips; mastering multimedia tools to record music, create podcasts and video games; and getting acquainted with micro-computing technology.

The foundation is a newly established fundraising arm of the district designed to “prepare our students for future personal and professional success,” the organization wrote in a press release.

“Our educators have the creativity, talent and passion to transform learning for students in our community,” Christine Robertson, executive director of the foundation’s board of directors, said in a statement. “What they often lack are the resources to turn their big ideas into reality. Through the foundation, our community is unlocking this potential and bringing dynamic new learning opportunities to thousands of students across our local schools.”

Projects at the following schools received grants:

Hawthorne Elementary School, San Luis Obispo

In conjunction with the Google Expeditions program, the “Seeing Our World” program will allow students to experience virtual field trips and create their own local expeditions and virtual field trips to demonstrate their learning and share the SLO community with the rest of the world. The school was awarded $10,000.

Monarch Grove Elementary School, Los Osos

The award covers “Leader in Me,” which is a “a comprehensive school improvement model to learn, practice and model leadership skills using Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” The school was awarded $10,000.

San Luis Obispo High School

The award funds the San Luis Obispo High School MarketPlace, “an innovative, collaborative emporium on campus, creating opportunities for students in the Career Technical Education (CTE) and Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) departments to display and even potentially sell their works.” The school was awarded $10,000.

Pacheco Elementary School, San Luis Obispo

The Pacheco Media Lab will allow students to record original music, create podcasts, develop video projects, and capture images to be shared with the school community and develop technical career skills. The school was awarded $10,000.

Los Ranchos Elementary, San Luis Obispo

The “Makerspace in a Box” program will help design the blueprint for project-based learning in elementary schools across the district with a campus initiative “incorporating makerspaces into elementary instruction that will help ensure effective and impactful replication across all other elementary school sites.” The school was awarded $5,000.

Teach Elementary School, San Luis Obispo

A social-emotional learning curriculum allows a global community of peers to view virtual reality content created by students around the world, and “in turn, our students (in San Luis Obispo) will be able to produce their own perspective-taking VR content to share.” The school was awarded $6,000.

Morro Bay High School

The program will aid in “the development of a four-year engineering pathway at Morro Bay High School by providing students access to the Arduino micro-computing platform,” benefiting students into a career. The school was awarded $5,570.

The public can also vote on the project they believe will have the most impact on learning to supplement that endeavor with an additional $5,000.

Go to to cast a vote for the People’s Choice Award.

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Nick Wilson covers the city of San Luis Obispo and has been a reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo since 2004. He also writes regularly about K-12 education, Cal Poly, Morro Bay and Los Osos. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley and is originally from Ojai.