Idea Lab Grants

Idea Lab 2018

Has this happened to you? You go to a conference, workshop, or for a run, and have a brilliant idea of how to get your students to be really engaged in a new way. But you get back to the classroom and it's hard to figure out how to execute this great idea.  

We are here to help you! The BEF Idea Lab grants are here to support your brilliant new idea! Idea Lab grants will fund up to $1,000 to teachers who offer new, hands-on, authentic, experiential learning opportunities in the classroom this year

Note that since 2017 the call is focused on project-based learning 


Idea Lab 2018 Grants 

Nina Bishop District-wide Performing Arts (Strings) Work toward equity for orchestra students by providing private lessons, 6-8th, who otherwise lack access.
Jillian Coggeshall* Lawrence 2nd grade Create STEM kits for all 2nd grade classrooms, and another kit for morning breakfast students.
Benjamin Conlon Pierce 4th Supplies to have 4th graders design and build a Rube Goldberg machine that corrects papers.
Leslie Fagen Lawrence & Pierce K-8, ECS, Engineering Purchase Spheros robots to teach coding and collaboration to 6th graders at Lawrence & Pierce.
Jo-Ann Faulk BEEP Pre-K, Preschool & RISE Bring Puddlestomers to BEEP's Beacon site.
John Ferguson All K-8 schools Instrumental Music Commission a former PSB student to compose a musical piece for the the current Town wide Orchestra students to play.
Emily Filippone BEEP at Lynch Pre-Kindergarten Fund a trip to the MFA for the Lynch Beep students & develop artist unit
David Fleming Heath 6/7 Social Studies Purchase equip to have students produce short podcasts in Social Studies and enter work in NYT Student Podcast Challenge
Joseph Iadarola Driscoll K-8 Physical Education Purchase 'smart' basketballs and soccer balls to engage students and measure results via an app.
Linda Kelly BHS psychologist The staff of Pathways will create executive function tool boxes for their students.
Melissa Lyons BEEP at Driscoll PK Naturalist from Drumlin Farm would visit the classroom and present their 'Hatch the Chicks' program.
Sue Peligian Baker K-8 SSTEEAMM Team/ECS Purchase a 3-D printer for collaborative use.
Lauren Tavares Runkle Speech and Language/Guidance Provide sensory boxes to all 4th grade classrooms to normalize the Special Ed experience.
Kyle Tompkins Driscoll/Coolidge Corner School Enrichment & Challenge Support Specialist, Grades K-8 Create STEAM project kits for grades 1-4. Ultimately creating a library for teachers to check out kits.
Meghan Walsh Runkle 1-3 Special Education Utilize STEM educational tools with the RISE (Reaching for  Independence in Structured Education) students.

* Received the Catalyst Innovation Award

Idea Lab 2017 Showcase of Projects 






Amy Bayer, ACE Program Coordinator


Watch a video on Circles and Restorative Justice Training 

This grant provided a Circles and Restorative Justice Training for the ACE Student Leadership Team. This one-day training provided student leaders experiential learning in the circle process. 

Victoria Cavanaugh, 7th Grade Science, Desiree Schreck, 7th Grade Math

Coolidge Corner School

Aquaponics Garden Project

Short clip here!

The grant funded the materials and professional expertise for designing and building an Aquaponics Garden. This interdisciplinary project provided the 7th Grade with a meaningful science and math content-rich experience that will allow students to be creative and respond to real world issues of food scarcity and sustainability.

Recipient of Catalyst Innovation Award 2017

Ann Collins, Maura McGill, Adam Fried, Librarians


Board Games Collection

The BHS Library is building a Board Games Collection that will allow several classroom teachers to use board games in their class to support curriculum. The grant funded the purchase of board games, which offer an innovative approach for students to practice and hone soft skills.

Mark Goldner, 7th/8th Grade Science


Rasberry Shakes

This grant provided funds for two Raspberry Shakes, small portable seismographs that can record earthquakes and earth's motions of all magnitudes. These devices complement the projects happening in 7th grade Geology, and bring to life what's happening on the earth's crust.

Michelle Greeley, pre-K teacher

BEEP at Putterham

The deCordova Project

Funds went towards a pre-K class field trip to the deCordova Museum and Sculpture park. In cooperation with the Lincoln Nursery School located on site at the Museum, the students had a hands-on experience exploring the sculptures and using recycled and natural items to create their own.

Ryan Kesser, 7th/8th Grade Science


Animal Skulls

This grant provided funds to purchase a permanent class collection of animal skulls. Students in middle school and 3rd grade, made their own discoveries and insights related to patterns, structure and function of animals' skulls, in order to more deeply understand functional differences and similarities of organisms and their role in ecosystems.

Amanda Kretschmar, Librarian


Watch a video on LEGO Wall Design Station

The BEF provided funds for creating a LEGO Wall and Design Station in the library, the heart of Pierce school.  This will be a place where students and teachers make 3D models and designs, play, and learn.

Deirdre Madden, Grade 2, Danielle Halwick, Grade 1, Samantha Levine, Grade 1, Jen Pablico, Grade 4, Tanya Paris, K, Chad Pelton, 7th/8th Grade Science 


Outdoor Classroom Beetle Bank 

Funds provided materials and professional expertise to construct a Beetle Bank in the Runkle Outdoor Classroom. A Beetle Bank will support students in investigating and understanding ecosystems and biodiversity, insect habitat and life cycle, botany, progressive and ecological agriculture, and gardening practices.

Jennifer Maylone, 6-8 LCSW Guidance Counselor

Coolidge Corner School

Career Exploration Workshop

This grant provided funds for organizing a half-day Career Exploration Workshop at Upper Devotion for the 8th Grade class. A panel of professionals from a diverse array of careers presented to students, followed by breakout groups where students engaged in more intimate conversations with the professionals.

Alejandra Munoz, 6th/7th Grade Science, Mies Boet, ECS


"Lincoln Plays" program 

A group of Lincoln Elementary School teachers have come together to develop a program targeting Engineering practices and Empathy development for kindergarten and 6th grade students. Funds went to materials, tools and storage needed to build projects designed by students, and aiming to help the Lincoln community.

Olivia Reyelt, K-8 Art

Driscoll, Heath, Runkle

Watch a video on KEVA Planks Collaboration activity

This grant funded the purchase of three classroom sets of KEVA planks for small groups of students to explore 3D work in art class. The activity will create more opportunities for students to experiment with the issues of 3D constructions and collaborative problem solving.

Matt Piccard, 6th Grade English


Watch a video on Collaborative Workstations

This grant provided funds for adding two Collaborative Workstations in the 6th Grade English classroom. Students come together around these workstations to share ideas, discuss, and analyze, prior to taking action on the hands-on projects that are happening during the school-year.

Anne Reid, Librarian, Allison Lenk, Literacy Specialist, Rick Cass, 4th/5th LC


Playaway Books

BEF funded the purchase of 16 Student Book Award nominees in Playaway (audiobook) format. This allowed students the timely, hands-on opportunity of participating in the 2018 Driscoll Student Book Award.

Donna Sartanowicz, Visual Arts


Ceramic Glaze Test Kiln

This grant will for provide funds to obtain a Glaze Test Kiln for AP Studio Art class. The kiln will enable students to complete a 3D Design portfolio and work more intensively and flexibly with glaze formulation in ceramics, thus enriching their learning and artistic output.

Elaine Shields, Andrea Lynch-Bransfield, Jim Henry, Lindsay Strauss, Brendan McCarthy, Bridge Alliance


Overnight for Bridge Alliance students

The grant will fund an overnight life skills experience to Newbury College for BHS Bridge Alliance students. This staff supervised activity will allow students to have their first away-from-home experience, with familiar professional staff, as well as practice independent living skills. 

Lauren Tavares, Laura Vish, Speech and Language


RISE Activities

With Audio (large file)

No Audio

This grant will provide materials to allow students in the RISE program to participate in monthly activities with the speech and language pathologists. These activities will allow students to get hands-on experience and gain independence in completion of important life skills, as well as exposure to the Brookline community.

Idea Lab 2012-2016

The Brookline Education Foundation Idea Lab Initiative began in 2012 seeking to promote the 21st Century classroom and to pilot new educational approaches that reflect the latest in educational thinking.

Idea Lab Grants award up to $1,000 each to Brookline educators. In 2015, the BEF announced an additional incentive to innovative approaches to teaching through an Innovation Catalyst Award - $500 Prize. The award is presented to the Idea Lab grant recipient whose proposal best supports a creative, pioneering approach to teaching. 

For a full list of all previously funded Idea Lab Grants click here  (Please note that the requirements were different up to 2016)