Big 12 Makeover Digital Learning Lab

The Big 12 Conference, in partnership with the College Football Playoff (CFP) Foundation’s Extra Yard for Teachers (EYFT) initiative and Lakeshore Learning Materials, today revealed the creation of a digital learning lab at Ames Middle School. 

Through a $50,000 grant, Ames Middle School was able to completely repurpose a space into a digital learning lab featuring virtual reality technology and items from Lakeshore’s brand-new, exclusive line of Flex-Space classroom furniture so that the space will be both interactive and inviting for students. Equipping the lab with virtual reality has the ability to impact all students at Ames Middle School.

“We appreciate the opportunity to impact the Ames community beyond intercollegiate athletics,” said Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “These makeovers have had a transformational effect by providing enhanced resources to educators to assist in helping students reach their true academic potential.”

The new digital learning lab was made possible from the College Football Playoff Foundation’s Extra Yard for Teachers program. Previously, the Big 12 and CFP Foundation partnered together to provide classroom makeovers at in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Kansas City, Kansas; Arlington, Texas; and Dallas, Texas.

“This is truly an honor, and we are so incredibly appreciative to be recipients of this new digital learning lab,” said Ames Community School District Superintendent Jenny Risner. “The students here are very deserving in receiving a lab with amazing virtual reality technology that they will surely appreciate and use frequently. Having a digital learning lab like this allows for us to incorporate other teaching methods and utilize virtual reality to create both a fun and engaging learning environment.”

Given the close proximity of the Ames Community School District and Iowa State University (ISU), this gift can be transformational for kids growing up in Ames. “Many of these kids, who may aspire to one day attend ISU, now have technological resources that give them better tools for educational purposes,” said Iowa State Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard. “Our hope is that this gift will inspire these students to fulfill their academic potential with the guidance of their teachers.”

The CFP Foundation serves as the philanthropic arm of the CFP, and its primary platform, Extra Yard for Teachers (EYFT), is dedicated to elevating the teaching profession by inspiring and empowering teachers in four focus areas: resources, recognition, recruitment and professional development. The EYFT initiative infuses valuable supplies like furniture, technology, and storage components more directly into classrooms around the country.

“Empowering teachers with supplies and resources they need is one of the best ways to make an impact in a child’s education well before college,” said CFP Foundation Executive Director Britton Banowsky. “We thank the Big 12 Conference and Lakeshore Learning Materials for partnering with us to support and recognize teachers, who have such a tremendous impact on the education of our country’s future.”

The CFP Foundation utilizes multiple partnerships to execute its initiatives and support positive educational outcomes. Since its inception, the foundation has supported 250,000 teachers, reached 6 million students and more than 28,000 schools have directly benefitted from its programs. 

“Helping redesign spaces to make them more conducive to learning is key to giving students and teachers the proper environment to use educational tools,” said Lakeshore Learning Materials Educational Division President Kevin Carnes. “Lakeshore strives to infuse schools with innovative learning materials to help students have fun while receiving a top-notch educational experience.”

Here is a list of the virtual reality equipment installed in the classroom:

  • 4 Ricoh Theta 360 degree cameras
  • 4 Oculus Quest VR headsets
  • 1 HTC Vive Cosmos VR headset
  • VR capable desktop computer and monitor
  • 24 ClassVR headsets
  • 65 inch TV to show VR and other content on