Arlington Hts. student iPad video could be national winner

Students in art classes are used to drawing, painting and working with clay — but one Arlington Heights teacher took art to the next level, combining it with technology to help her students create an animated video, drawn completely on iPads.

Their creativity might be rewarded with a big prize. The Dryden Elementary School’s 5th grade art project is now one of 30 national finalists for the McGraw-Hill STEMie award, which comes with a $15,000 prize.

Art teacher Tricia Fuglestad explained that while STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics — many are now hoping to change the acronym to STEAM, adding art into the equation.

That’s exactly what Fuglestad did with 100 5th grade students last year as they worked on a monthlong animation project, redrawing 335 images with stylus pens on iPad tablets and creating an animated video.

The project is now in third place for the STEMie award, and needs your votes to help it move up. Vote for the “Rotoscope Animation on iPads” project at

The project is the only art-based finalist. To win, judges will consider essays from students, the quality of the video submitted and online votes — which count for 30 percent of the final score.

Fuglestad said Dryden has been working to integrate iPads into the classroom in all classes, and digital art was a perfect fit for her students.

“We didn’t know if it could work, so many things could go wrong,” said Fuglestad, who was named a Teacher of Distinction from the Golden Apple Foundation in 2012 and named 2011 Illinois Art Teacher of the Year.

Word about the project has already spread. Fuglestad blogged about how she and her students did the project to give other teachers tips on tackling a similar digital animation project.

Fuglestad said her favorite part was seeing how much her students were engaged in the project.

She even took a video of the students while they worked because her art classroom was so quiet, it shocked her.

“The kids were just so excited about doing this and they understood that their piece was contributing to the bigger picture,” she said.

If Dryden wins, Fuglestad said she hopes the school will be able to spend the prize money on more iPads for students and teachers.

Dryden Elementary School Art Teacher Tricia Fuglestad works with her students on their rotoscope animation project. Photo courtesy Tricia Fuglestad
The rotoscope animation process, used by students at Dryden Elementary in Arlington Heights to create an award winning art project. Photo courtesy Tricia Fuglestad
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