Mar 25, 2016

Advancing STEM Education and Access in Maine

Posted by Rachel McDonnell

Last March, Kepware started accepting applications for its second annual school grant contest. Committed to advancing STEM education and workforce development in Maine, Kepware’s goal was to help alleviate the technology gap and provide students the tools they need to excel in the classroom and beyond.

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Open to educational programs located and operating in the state, the contest asked applicants to submit an essay describing how the grant would be used to improve educational opportunities and support their classroom. Morison Memorial School in Corinth, Maine was selected out of fourteen applicants to receive the $10,000 donation in July 2015.

Fifth-grade math teacher, Deborah Dearborn, was concerned that her students wouldn’t be adequately prepared for an upper-level education. At the time of her grant application, Mrs. Dearborn’s students were Deborah Dearborn, Tony Paine, Morison Memorial Classroom 2016.jpg sharing one to four desktop computers between 70 students. The $10,000 technology budget was $9,700 more than what Mrs. Dearborn was accustomed to.

Kepware recently visited the grant recipient’s classroom in the small town located northwest of Bangor, Maine to talk with students and see how they’ve utilized the donation. The excited fifth graders sat in a circle to tell Platform President Tony Paine and Business Director Steve Sponseller all about how their classroom has changed.SS-MM-Class-2016.jpg

“As a proud representative of the Kepware Giving Committee, it was awesome to see how excited the students were to use their laptops in a manner that made learning interesting and fun," said Steve Sponseller. "I wish I could say I was that enthusiastic about arithmetic, spelling, and writing reports when I was in fifth grade.” 

There are twenty-five Chromebooks set up at stations around the room for math, science, spelling, writing, and social studies. The students play educationalMM-Class2-2016.jpg games and collaborate with one another, facilitating learning and teamwork. They draft multiple versions of written work and are excited about how easy it is to improve each draft using Google Docs on their Chromebooks.

“Students need access to technology on a daily basis in order to prepare for their future, regardless of location or shrinking school budgets," said Tony Paine. "It only seems right for organizations like ours to invest in making this possible. After all, these students are our future.”MM-thumbs-2016.jpg

Since gaining access to the new technology, the fifth grade class of outdoorsy kids has had a sharp increase in both quality of work and willingness to improve their work. They are now able to confidently show each other how to use a tool or solve a problem in a manner similar not only to upper-level education but to how we operate as a team at Kepware. It’s truly fulfilling to make an investment in the future of STEM education in Maine and see the transformation firsthand.

Interested in submitting your classroom, school club, or educational program to Kepware’s annual School Grant Contest? For information on eligibility and deadlines, visit our website.

Learn About the 2016 School Grant Contest