Foundation 51 is a volunteer, non-profit organization whose mission is to provide independent funding to promote innovative student development in MSAD51. By supporting the inventive use of existing and emerging teaching methods, Foundation 51 seeks to enrich the educational experience with programs that inspire creativity and passion, and encourage social responsibility. 

Grant Spotlight: Snap Circuits


Learning about electricity and magnetism may not sound too exciting to a group of fourth graders, however, Carrie Begley and Molly Russell certainly changed that for their students at Greely Middle School this winter. After applying for and receiving grant money from Foundation 51, the teachers purchased 24 snap circuit kits from ELENCO. The snap circuit kits were used by three classes, totaling about 70 students, to enrich and celebrate learning during the electricity unit. Students, excited by the hands on learning, have asked to use them again. So Carrie anticipates using them again before the school year ends. Another GMS teacher is starting to learn how to use the kits with her students and it is anticipated that next year the kits will rotate through the entire fourth grade as part of the electricity and magnetism unit.

After attending a class at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics Carrie and Molly were introduced to snap circuits as a way to engage and excite kids about electricity and engineering. They were struck by the ease with which anyone can put together complex circuits. Snap circuit parts snap into one another, so there are no wire ends that break off or pieces that refuse to stay in contact with one another. It makes working with circuits a “snap” for teachers and students alike.

Carrie says, the biggest success with this learning tool has been the student engagement in building the circuits. The students studied the directions and used them to help build complex circuits. Students saw first-hand how resistors and switches work in real life. A fellow teacher at the school comments, “The kits gave kids an individual hands on experience that connected their learning to the real world.” And a parent of one of the students says, “Thanks for sharing this! My child loved the snap circuits and has asked for a set for his birthday!”

The effectiveness of this hands-on learning experiment is measured by the engagement of the students and how they were able to apply what they had learned in the unit to build and troubleshoot circuits. Carrie, along with some other staff at the school, developed a video to show the student’s excitement with using the snap circuits, which is currently on the MSAD #51 website.  An impressive 60% of the students mentioned the snap circuits kits in their 3rd quarter reflection as something they enjoyed and wanted to use again.