Awesome Foundation Awards $1000 To Educational Pinball Project

Once a month, the folks at the Awesome Foundation Toronto give out $1,000 to a lucky someone who has an awesome idea that needs a little cash to make it a reality.

This month’s cash loot was awarded at Maker Faire Toronto over the past weekend and was received by none other than David Hann, a teacher, maker and all-around pinball wizard whose passion and commitment to bringing hands-on education to classrooms had us all gobsmacked.

David is a teacher at the Toronto District School Board’s Donview Middle School and has been awarded $1000 toward his project to teach students across multiple disciplines via the research, design and construction of educational pinball games.

“As early supporters of the maker movement, in the spring of 2014, my colleague and I tried an innovative 3 month “integrated project” for our grade 8 class, culminating with the creation of functioning pinball machines. Along the way, students covered all the required math, science, history and language curriculum, as well as learning about project management. The main goal was to try and get students to see the relevance of their learning with a real-world task, and to present the material in an exciting and engaging way. Students were put in groups, and had to create a social media presence on Twitter to document their progress and promote the #PinballProject.”

The project was such a highlight of the Faire, the Toronto Star couldn’t help but interview David and his students: 

Standing over the wooden pinball machine he made in Grade 8, Aaron MacKinnon will tell you it’s way easier to learn when you’re building stuff. It’s more fun, he says. The knowledge just sinks in and stays there. “The best part about building the pinball machine was designing it, bringing all the pieces together,” says MacKinnon, a 14-year-old student who constructed the wooden game with levers and bumpers and gutters for his math and science teacher at Donview Middle School last year.

The Maker Faire team were super-impressed by all the nominees, and were even more stoked to hear that the prize money had been awarded to David, whose attitude and activities reflect the spirit of the faire and broader maker movement. “It honestly could not have gone to a more worthy project or a more passionate teacher. He’s changing lives,” said Eric Boyd, co-director of the Faire. We can’t wait to have him and his students back next year to show of their latest projects!

Photos thanks to Five By Five Photography.