Desert Vista Students’ Gifted Projects

By Robyn Gonzales

Students at Desert Vista Elementary School, 3701 E. Broadway Ave. in Apache Junction, wrapped up 2018 sharing their Gifted Projects with Jodi Walker, academic coach for AJUSD elementary schools, and Robyn Gonzales, educational services curriculum manager.

The students demonstrated initiative, imagination and creativity in their projects and presentations. Paul Henry, a fourth grader, researched Leonardo Da Vinci’s parachute, which began as a sketch in a notebook and later became a reality. Paul learned that, while the sketch was done by Da Vinci centuries ago, in 2000 a daredevil named Adrian Nicholas took the plunge to test out a constructed version. After completing the research, Paul created a smaller scaled version of the parachute, searching different stores to find just the right materials to construct the mini version using similar canvas as the cover.

Aiden Watterud, a fifth grader, conducted research on the evolution of technology and created a slideshow titled, “Advances in Technology Through the Ages.” His insights were surprising. For instance, did you know in 2500 BCE the Egyptians created the first paper type substance; that the first flushing toilet was invented in 1596; or that Alexander Bain made the first fax machine in the 1840s? If your answer is no, you are not alone.  Mrs. Walker and Mrs. Gonzales also learned from Aiden’s presentation.

Ragan Stoltz, a fifth grade student, used her research skills and creativity to create a hands-on learning model about DNA.  Ragan’s research findings were outstanding. During her presentation, she shared facts about DNA that included terminology well beyond her years. She read the information effortlessly and was able to explain her learning without skipping a beat. Her peers enjoyed pulling facts from her model, reading the research and asking Ragan questions that she was prepared to answer.

“The students did an amazing job,” said Mrs. Gonzales.  “Their teachers, Katie Snider and Amanda Hiatt, also deserve recognition, as they provided wonderful support and mentorship throughout the projects.”

For more information about AJUSD call 480-982-1110, or visit

Photo above: L-R: Paul Henry, Aiden Watterud and Ragan Stoltz

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