Spring Branch ISD Featured News

J. Landon Short Mini Grants for Educators winner spotlight: Spring Forest Middle School’s Andrea Littlefield


Mini Grant Project: Creating 3D Print Makers

Andrea Littlefield teaches four Project Lead-the-Way Gateway courses for 7th and 8th graders at Spring Forest Middle School in Spring Branch ISD: Design and Modeling, Automation & Robotics, Medical Detectives and Computer Science for Innovator Makers. The units of study in the program empower students to lead their own discovery. The hands-on approach boosts classroom engagement and excitement, drives collaboration, and inspires “aha! moments” and deep comprehension.

Littlefield was inspired to apply for grant funding from the J. Landon Short Mini Grants for Educators program to purchase a 3D printer to help students take ownership in projects while building the skills needed to communicate and develop their ideas. 

According to Littlefield, students who want to print something on the new 3D printer will first go through a design process. “They will need to imagine, do research, design, sketch, calculate dimensions, communicate, and program their ideas,” she said.

“By going through this process, I’m hoping that a sense of pride and ownership can be fostered because of what they have to demonstrate beforehand. Not only will they have the object they printed in the end, but they will truly understand all the effort and achievement it took to print that object.”

Littlefield envisions that when students learn to effectively communicate ideas with their design teams, it will foster collaboration. Critical thought about project limitations and finding solutions to problems with their designs will also be essential to achieve a finished product on the 3D printer. Developing these life skills will contribute to the growth of the students’ Core Characteristics of a T-2-4 Graduate, which are aspirations Spring Branch ISD has for all students.

“Their ability to problem-solve the things that go wrong with their designs will also improve with more exposure and experience,” Littlefield said. “Confidence and pride can be developed by having the opportunity to take ownership in what they have created. I really think my students will design and create some amazing pieces on the 3D printer.” 

Access to a 3D printer is an innovative way to enhance creativity and encourage students to learn more about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“I am so excited about this project,” Littlefield said. “I hope this will inspire my students to create and take an interest in other STEM-related activities and even careers!”

Congratulations, Ms. Littlefield, for securing the mini-grant funding for this piece of technology that will spark your students’ Limitless Curiosity and character growth!

For 32 years, Spring Branch ISD has conducted the J. Landon Short Mini Grants for Educators program. More than 20 years ago, the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation created this permanent program endowment in memory of J. Landon Short, a lifelong education advocate and district patron.

Thank you to our partners whose generous funding of more than $25,000 made this year’s mini grants possible:

  • Spring Branch Education Foundation
  • First Community Credit Union
  • McNair Endowment interest

See a complete list of the 2021 Mini Grant winners here.