Hovercraft Project Speaks At Fulton BOE Meeting

Man speaks
Matt Chase speaks to the board.

FULTON – The Fulton City School District Board of Education invited The Hovercraft Project to speak about their program and its impact on the Fulton students during last night’s BOE meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 7.

Founder of The Hovercraft Project Matt Chase spoke to the board about the program’s purpose and effect on the Lanigan Elementary students and teachers involved. This is one of the programs through Chase Educational Consulting.

Executive Director of Instruction and Assessment Elizabeth Conners said this program has been implemented across the county for three years now. 

Chase said the program, aimed at 5th and 6th grade students, is meant to improve the students’ self values and their ability to work as a team.

“The number of students that feel like they’re worthless today, who feel they have no value in them, is very high,” Chase said. “There are lots of problems with families; there are lots of problems with students not being able to achieve certain things, and they feel worthless.”

He gives the students a positive way to respond to the negative things others say to them to help them build their self worth. Chase said it is important to help them with their emotions before they begin to learn about what they will be constructing.

During the program, the students spend the day working to build their own hovercraft without the aid of their teachers, except for asking students questions to help guide them in the right direction. It is a low friction vehicle that is operated by a leaf blower that they are able to ride once complete.

Chase gives the students a list of instructions, but they are left to their own devices to solve the problems they run into. 

“If you can get through the problems, you succeed on your own, but if you don’t get through the problems by yourself, you fail on your own,” Chase said. “Even if you don’t succeed today, you’re still valuable.”

He shared a video showing the fruits of the students’ work throughout the day at another school that Chase and his family visited.

He said the project engages students with different learning styles, and those who typically struggle with traditional bookwork learning often excel. Students are encouraged to think outside the box. 

BOE President Robbin Griffin witnessed the program two years ago and saw when the students were tasked with measuring a distance, one group used the length of a student.

“It was as amazing to see the teachers as it was the watch the students, and I couldn’t get over that every person in the room, regardless of age, was engaged in what was happening,” Griffin said.

Chase said although the day is not all laughs and smiles, the tears and frustration they experience help them to work through it. 

Student representative Rebecca Bailey, who was recently appointed to sit on the board this past week, approved of the project, but brought her perspective as a high school student to bring up that the children her age need a program like that as well. 

She said middle school to high school students increasingly experience struggles in their personal lives and it reflects in their schoolwork. She said her age group had Rachel’s Challenge in middle school and now have the Positivity Project, but noticed it is all the same students and enthusiasm fizzles out.

“How can we implement stuff like that in every age level?” Bailey said. “You can’t just learn something once then never touch up on it again. You have to reinforce it.”

Griffin thanked Bailey for her input and for being part of the board.

Conners also gave an assessment report on where Fulton students are in comparison with the rest of Oswego County and the state for ELA and math proficiency. The data follows students in grades 3 through 8. Overall, the districts numbers are lower than the county and state. Conners said overall, the district is in alignment with where they have been and is confident the students are growing although there is work to be done to get the numbers up.

The board discussed where reserved funds would be best placed and approved all resolutions.

The next BOE meeting will be Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 6:30 p.m. in the Board Room at the Fulton Junior High School. 

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