FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – Many teachers look for innovative ways to engage their students in the classroom, and sometimes those extra projects can cost.

Teacher Paige Mason says she made a big announcement to make to her 5th-grade class.

Mason teaches visual arts at Aspen Meadows Charter School and says she is always looking for opportunities to enhance students’ learning.

“I think it will open a lot of doors to show different avenues of art and how fine art can still be used with a 3D printer but for my mathematical and my scientific students they will get a chance to design,” said Paige Mason, Visual Arts Teacher at Aspens Meadows Charter School.

The 3D printer is a new tool that has excited the entire staff of this public charter school, which was established eight years ago to serve the needs of kids who live in central Fresno.

“We have a very diverse population here. We do have about 20 percent of our students are homeless. We have a high English language learner population,” Lisa Taylor, Principal at Aspens Meadows Charter School. “Our Mission is transforming the community by developing exceptional leaders.”

Looking for opportunities to broaden students’ learning, the school applied for an innovation grant. The grants are offered through the foundation at the Fresno County Office of Education (FCOE).

“The Foundation at FCOE created the Innovation Grants to give teachers and other school staff an opportunity to fund those projects that are unique, that really engage students in innovative ways,” said MaryEllen Galvan, Executive Director of Foundation at FCOE.

At this year’s award reception, 30 grants were awarded to educators whose projects were chosen to receive funding everything from supporting students’ mental health to raising chickens.

Sanger Unified teacher Traci Tucker says she wants to increase family time at her school.

“I asked for a grant to do art with the families. They will come on campus and they will do art with the students and the second half of the grant was to come and do games with their children,” said Traci Tucker, Sanger Unified Teacher.

The innovation grants are funded by the employees at the office of the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools. They contribute through payroll deductions plus hold fundraisers it’s not mandatory it’s a volunteer effort.

“It’s amazing that there’s people who may not even get a chance to see your campus, get to know who these people are, but still willing to invest in these children,” said Mason.