Flagstaff science teacher Kaci Heins is among hundreds of educators selected nationwide by PBS to be honored as 2016 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators, and one of only 52 to be honored as a Lead Digital Innovator.
PBS LearningMedia, the free media on-demand service that offers more than 120,000 digital resources for teachers, honors educators from across the country who exemplify excellence in using technology and digital media to support student learning.
Heins teaches sixth grade science at Northland Preparatory Academy. Her goal is to inspire students to explore science, technology, engineering and math by engaging in hands-on projects and engineering design challenges.
“The PBS Digital Innovator program is designed to empower tech-savvy educators to harness and fine-tune their skills as a means to further integrate technology into the classroom,” said Kimberly Flack, associate general manager of educational outreach at Arizona PBS. “Kaci is already utilizing technology in such unique and creative ways in her curriculum. I can’t wait to see what she can accomplish after she takes part in the many technology infusion workshops that are available to her through this program.”
Heins, along with the other 2016 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators, will receive yearlong professional development opportunities, virtual trainings, exclusive resources from PBS LearningMedia Custom, a free PBS TeacherLine professional development course, networking opportunities and much more. Additionally, one educator from every U.S. state and territory was named a Lead Digital Innovator, and will represent their state or territory at the PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator Summit in Denver at the 2016 (ISTE) conference.
Heins was selected as Arizona’s 2016 Lead PBS Digital Innovator for her vast experience incorporating technology into her classroom. She said she enjoys placing her students in the roles of scientists and engineers through experiential projects such as building solar powered cars, wind turbines and launching weather balloons with scientific payloads up to 100,000 feet into the atmosphere. She also integrates iPads, numerous online applications and 3D printing into her science curriculum.
“I love being an educator because I make learning fun and demonstrate real world connections to the content,” said Heins. “I am really excited to be a PBS Digital Innovator because there are so many new things I can learn about technology that I can incorporate into a learning environment. Technology is changing all the time, and this experience will allow me to learn more about what is out there and how to use it to bring out the best in students.”
Heins said her hope is to inspire her students to develop a love of learning while inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.
The full list of 2016 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators is available at http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/collection/digitalinnovators.
Past Arizona PBS Digital Innovators include CYR Center of Excellence High School Teacher Kimberley Reynolds (2015), Fireside Elementary School First and Second Grade Educator Karen Mensing (2014) and PPEP TEC High School Science Teacher Stephen Purkiss (2013).
In order to gain a better understanding of the effect that PBS digital resources have on student knowledge and engagement, PBS recently conducted a study of middle school science, math, English language arts and social studies classrooms where resources available through PBS LearningMedia were integrated into existing curriculum.
The PBS LearningMedia Impact Study, conducted by Education Development Center’s Center for Children and Technology, showed that across subject areas, student performance on content assessments showed significant improvement, increasing by eight percentage points. In addition, students outperformed national assessment norms by 10 percentage points, on average, and outperformed state assessment norms, by an average of 11 percentage points.
For more information and to view the full study, please visit, PBS Learn More Report.