It was over the summer of 2020 following what Bakersfield High School math teacher, Tamara Clark called the “crisis mode of education” that the LightUp Education Lightboard came to be. The board has allowed Clark to take applied algebra lessons directly from the agenda to the see-through board, so that students can see the equations and Clark at the same time.
“As a lifelong educator, it’s imperative to me that we connect with these kids,” Clark said.
Clark saw something similar on YouTube, but found models online to be too expensive. So, her husband, Bakersfield Fire Department Battalion Chief, A.J. Clark got to work and built his own version.
“The fire department has some of the same mottos the marines use. One is, “adapt to overcome,” A.J. Clark said. “So, adapt and improvise to overcome. That’s what we did, just by using a few simple materials.”
With some tempered glass from All American Glass company in town, LED lights, and some neon expo markers, this second model of the light board that they use today Clark has used as a Zoom camera and has written equations directly on the screen.
Their ingenuity caught the attention of State Farm, who awarded them a $2500 grant to make 12 more boards for Bakersfield High School teachers by the end March and potentially beyond.
“So when you do the math, you can see how quickly we can reach these kids,” Clark said as she demonstrated on the board an equation that showed how many students could be potentially reached: 12 lightboards per teacher multiplied by 180 students each teacher approximately reaches, equals approximately 2160 students benefiting from the lightboards.
Kern High School District instructional assistant Jasmine Hernandez has been given one of the Clark’s lightboards already. She said it has helped her a lot in daily instruction when she has assisted Clark, or does tutoring for different subjects, especially when working with her special education students.
“At least for a lot of my kids, seeing it on paper, seeing it on the lightboard, helps them obtain the information better because it’s similar to a classroom setting,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez believes that this could be a useful tool in not only high school classes, but college and for students who are deaf/hard of hearing.
The Clarks can see the lightboard being useful not just in distanced learning but in hybrid classes when in-person learning resumes for high schoolers.