Two Sioux Falls teachers got a big surprise on Wednesday that will help them in their classrooms.  

The Sioux Falls Education Foundation presented them with checks to buy some high tech pieces of equipment that will take their students around the world and to infinity and beyond.  

He looks a little like Buzz Lightyear, but he’s actually going to be the newest teacher at Patrick Henry Middle School.

Information Communication and Technology teacher Jason Whiting applied for a grant from the Sioux Falls Education Foundation to buy the two-foot robot.  

He had no idea his innovative project was selected, but found out Wednesday morning at this surprise ceremony. 

“Speechless actually because the amount I had asked for was a significant amount, “Whiting said. 

Whiting says the $7,000 robot, which is capable of fully interacting with the kids, will be used by the computer science students to learn programming, but that’s not all. 

“Ideally we would like to get out to some of the elementary schools and with some early childhood classrooms, get all over the district,” Whiting said. 

Another teacher who applied for a grant, and was equally as surprised, was 7th grader science teacher Jessie Rentschler.  

She was hoping for a trip of a lifetime with virtual reality goggles that can take students anywhere in the world. 

“They have the option of going deep sea diving, climbing cliffs or mountains that aren’t available to us here,” Rentschler said. 

The grants are made possible by businesses including KELOLAND Media Group and SDN Communications that donated the money.  Members of the Innovative Grant Committee selected the winners. 

“I just love creative ideas and I love to feed the passion of teachers because that’s how you get better and better teachers.  Feed those who are always on the cutting edge and trying something new; they pave the way for all great teachers,” Chair of the Innovative Grant Committee Nancy Duncan said. 

The Sioux Falls Education Foundation will award a total of 21 grants to teachers this year worth more than $40,000.