For the past six years, Courtney VandeBunte has been teaching science at the i3 Academy on the Flagler Palm Coast High School campus.
On Monday, Dec. 14, her class attended the ribbon cutting at the Hope Community Garden in Bunnell. The event was a perfect example of why she likes her job at the i3 Academy.
“If I was still on the main campus, I wouldn’t be here at this ribbon cutting,” VandeBunte said. “I like involving the students in the community and being able to help as much as we can.”
Class projects seem to always involve helping others, whether it’s a Sheltering Tree social to assist the homeless, or providing teaching aids for elementary schools.
The students have a 3D printer, purchased from a grant, to use for various projects, but one is not enough.
“We are about $400 away from purchasing a second 3D printer,” VandeBunte said. “Sometimes it can take 24 hours for something to print, so with two we will be able to get more done.”
The students are currently working with Flagler elementary schools, creating anatomical human body systems. The finished products will be kid-friendly and colorful, and will be donated to local elementary schools to use as a teaching aid.
“My favorite part of being at i3 is being able to take a couple vans full of students and be involved in the community. I like having the freedom of bringing them outside the classroom and into the real world,” VandeBunte said.
She means ‘world’ literally. Next year she would like to take a step further, to global involvement.
“I would like to take a trip to a rain forest first, and then try to get a group of students to go out and do some environmental research,” she said.
The class is researching marine science and the farming of coral polyps to be transplanted off the coast of Florida.
“We spoke with a man who does aquascape and asked him if he could make us a coral farm,” she said. I want to take them from the neighborhood level, up to the state level, and then to the global level.”