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Kepware donation encourages robotics learning at Maine elementary school


July 12, 2016
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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Jul. 12, 2016 – Students at Acton Elementary School in Acton, Maine, are enjoying a $10,000 boast to its Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) cirriculum, thanks to a donation from Kepware Technologies, a software development business focused on industrial connectivity.

The donation, awarded to the school through Kepware’s third annual school grant contest, aims to help students develop mechanical and computer skills essential for building and programming autonomous robots.

In an effort to ignite interest and confidence in STEM subjects, Acton Elementary School planned to implement the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Launch curriculum next September, which offers an activity, project, and problem-based STEM module (and hands-on robotics course) for fourth and fifth graders. Students are tasked with designing, building, testing, and refining robots and machines through the use of a VEX Robotics Kit. Unable to purchase the supplies with the school’s remaining budget, Acton Elementary’s office administrative assistant, Eiléan Worcester, submitted an application for the $10,000 grant.  

“A large missing piece of our new syllabus was the VEX robotics equipment,” she said. “At first, we thought we had to delay the introduction of the robotics course by a year, taking out quite a bit of the science program. Now, with the funding from Kepware, our tiny school is set to make a big impact.”

Rachel Driscoll, the school’s first instructional coach and a primary driver of the PLTW curriculum, added, “Robotics is a subject that can’t truly be understood by just reading about it. These kits will enable our students to fully explore the ways robots are used in today’s world through hands-on projects and engaging exercises. Both the students and the teachers are eager to get started.”

According to Kepware, this year’s school grant contest received numerous proposals from educational programs located and operating in the state of Maine.

“The solution to Maine’s shortage of engineering talent starts with education,” said Tony Paine, platform president, Kepware. “Local programs and institutions aimed at nurturing STEM curiosity can help encourage Maine’s youth to explore rewarding careers in science and engineering. We’re honoured to be able to assist in these efforts by bringing information and technology into the lives of students.”

— With files from Kepware Technologies