Fresno Unified students get creative with at-home innovation challenge

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno Unified School District is encouraging its students to get imaginative amid distance learning.

Fresno Unified student, Annabella Thao, hasn't wasted any time while house-bound during the coronavirus pandemic.

"I wanted to do something during quarantine, and my teacher wanted to give us a project that was optional," said Thao.

When the district first launched the at-home innovation challenge, Thao got to work, creating an invention in honor of everyone's favorite pandemic past time -- snacking.

"They could use any materials they had at their house, including for the sphere itself, so they submitted videos with their designs," explained Iain Patterson with FUSD College and Career Readiness.

This fall, the district teamed with Fresno State for a new Virtual Innovation Program (VIP), giving students an opportunity to engineer solutions for day to day problems only using materials they have at home.

"We wanted to really promote this type of thinking, this process of how do you innovatively become creative?" said Patterson.

VIP is made of four week-long challenges. This week students competed in an energy conservation challenge.

"As we move through the next decade or two decades, we don't know what works going to look like, and that's kind of the challenge is preparing our students across all grade levels to be career ready grads," added Patterson.

As for Thao, her invention won her first place and a Chromebook.

"It was a good moment," said Thao.

VIP is for students Pre-K through 12th grade and runs through winter break.
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