Twinning for Nature: Sparking Global Collaboration


Picture 1: EFE agency wrote an article about this project, It was published by over ten newspapers

The twins went on a field trip to Antelope Island (Utah State Park) with their classes and during this visit they found out that there was a lack of learning materials for Spanish speakers.


Their students were surprised and concerned at the same time, they could not stop asking:

"What about if a Spanish-speaking family visit this park?"

After the visit, they decided to do something about it: They were going to write Spanish guides for thirty-two US national parks.



Picture 2: Students collaborating in a video call within Microsoft Teams

The twins and a sixth grade teacher from Eagle Bay Elementary split their classes in thirty-two groups of three members, one from each of the schools involved in this project (The twins were teaching in different schools back then). They designed an online setting using Microsoft Teams, One Note and Skype where students set up Skype meetings and used Microsoft One Note to keep track of their work . The twins wanted to replicate the environment that start-ups and 21st century companies use in their daily routine: Online meetings, weekly goals, to-do lists and shared documents.

Students were asked to research some information about their national park such as weather, animals, plants, ecosystems, best time of the year to go, activities and even games for little kids (all of these topics are linked to Utah's 6th grade curriculum: weather, water cycle, animal adaptations and ecosystems)

The final goal was not to complete the Spanish guides. The final goal was to develop the 21st century skills of our students and prepare them to work in the working environment and setting that they will be using in the future: The goal is not the final product but the process itself.


Building Smiles: The Ultimate Service- Learning Project


Alberto’s (6th grade) and Mario’s classes (1st grade) worked together the entire year in what they called STEAM buddies. During these activities, they focused on the use of technology and the 21st-century skills (Collaboration, critical thinking, problem-solving skills, etc.) to enhance the learning of our students. The 6th graders have mentored the 1st graders this year introducing them to different apps that amplify and personalize their learning.


To finish a fantastic year of learning, we decided to conduct a service project integrating some of the tools that they used during the year: Minecraft, OneNote, Teams and Flipgrid. This is how "Building Smiles" was born.



Picture 1: Final product of this project

Picture 2: Sonja Delafosse spotlighted this project in Toronto during the WE Educator Summit

For this project, the 6th graders introduced the 1st graders to Minecraft for education. They created an animal and its ecosystem in Minecraft with the intention of helping the 1st graders to learn some Spanish vocabulary. After they created their animal, they exported, and 3D printed them. Also, they wrote a short Spanish book (OneNote) that tells the story of the animal that they created.


Once each partner created a 3D printed toy (animal) and its book. They recorded a video (Flipgrid) reading the book to give the opportunity to enjoy the story to those kids that can’t read (AudioBook). Also, students created videogames using Minecraft for Education. These videogames were Spanish lessons that take place in the same scenarios that the books.

Two QR codes were attached to the books to give access to the readers to the book's videogame (Minecraft world) and the audiobooks (Flipgrid)


We partnered up with WE and we donated these materials to one of their WE Village in Ecuador with the intention of providing the kids that live there, who do not have resources, with new books, toys (3D printed animals) and videogames related with the story of the animal.

Designing The Future: For Students by Students

Last spring, the twins were approached by a representative of FomCore, a school furniture company that wanted to share with them some information about an incredible grant opportunity.

FomCore was looking for schools who were willing to partner up with them to bring STEAM practices into the classroom by designing school furniture. The idea was that students will design a piece of furniture using the engineering process and FomCore will produce that piece for them.


The Herraez brothers wanted to take this project further and convert it in a way that is meaningful to their students. Students will be participating in a start-up company simulation within their classes for this project. They are going to break each of their classes into different departments (marketing, data department, human resources, design and security...) and each department will have a specific task to accomplish. Each class will work together to come up with the design, marketing strategy, etc. The idea behind this is for the students to experience a 21st century working environment and develop life-ready skills.

Their classes will be competing against each other to come up with the best design. On December 17th, the three classes will present their final design and the process that each of the different departments went through to a group of judges made by FomCore members , Davis School District admins and school admins.

The judges will vote and pick one of the designs that will be sent to FomCore for them to create and produce the winning piece of furniture that will then be shipped to Canyon Creek for our students to enjoy their creation.

Picture 1: Students using Microsoft Whiteboard to sketch their designs

Picture 2: Dave Miller from FomCore flew in to do the kick-off assembly