Recipient of third annual grant program earns $10,000 to advance STEM curriculum
Kepware Donation Encourages Robotics Learning at Maine Elementary School
Kepware Technologies, a software development business focused on industrial connectivity, has donated $10,000 to Acton Elementary School, in Acton, Maine, as part of its third annual school grant contest. With its headquarters in Portland, Kepware is committed to the advancement of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education and workforce development in Maine and abroad. The donation will enable Acton Elementary School students to hone mechanical and computer skills essential for building and programming autonomous robots.
“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 honored to be able to assist in these efforts by bringing information and technology into the lives of students.”
Now in its third year, the school grant contest received numerous proposals from educational programs located and operating in the state of Maine. Applicants were evaluated on a one-page essay detailing how the grant would improve educational opportunities for their students.
In an effort to ignite interest and confidence in STEM subjects, Acton Elementary School will implement the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Launch curriculum beginning in September 2017, making them the first elementary school to do so in the state of Maine. The activity, project, and problem-based STEM module includes a 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. These kits are packed with mechanical, control, and power components. Unable to purchase these supplies with the school’s remaining budget, Acton Elementary’s Office Administrative Assistant, Eiléan Worcester, entered an application for the $10,000 grant.
“A large missing piece of our new syllabus was the VEX robotics equipment,” said Worcester. “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. Not only will these kits help foster robotics and STEM knowledge in our local community, but it will also help supply Maine’s future workforce with creative problem solvers and strategists.”
Rachel Driscoll, the school's first Instructional Coach and a primary driver of the PLTW curriculum, said, “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.”