(TNS) – Ponus Ridge STEAM Academy celebrated the arrival of new Chromebooks for its students on Wednesday with a physics carnival.
Ponus Ridge was one of three Norwalk colleges to receive the devices through a partnership with Digital Promise and Verizon Innovative Learning, a Verizon educational initiative dedicated to removing barriers to digital inclusion. The partnership, announced earlier this year, will also benefit students at Nathan Hale and West Rocks Colleges.
“We look forward to this partnership as we close a number of the gaps, our economic gap, our success gap and, most importantly, a hope gap. As we continue into the 21st century, we want to make sure that all of our students are ready for college and / or career, ”Principal Damon Lewis told the families gathered for the launch event.
Each participating school will receive approximately $ 1.8 million in programs and services for the first two years of the program. The grant will be $ 5.4 million in aggregate value for the first two years, including the cost of data plans, devices and professional development. Grant funds have been taken into account in the 2021-2022 budget.
The students received a new Chromebook with 5G access built into the device. Students who do not have internet access at home can access the internet anywhere with these devices, making it easier to collaborate on projects and expand their learning opportunities.
“They can take these devices home and use them 24/7. In fact, they are encouraged to use it as their personal device,” said Tina Henckel, education administrator for tutoring and improving STEM (K-12).
Amy Fusarelli, pedagogical coach for digital learning, added: “The main objective is to increase digital learning as they can have the choice of students for projects, be able to use more digital tools, much more collaboration. “
Each device comes with a charger and a case. In the coming days, students and teachers will learn how to best use the device, how to take care of the device, and how to integrate the use of the device into their lessons, whether or not it is STEM related.
Students got a taste of these STEM and STEAM related opportunities during Carnival with activities spread across the gym floor. High school students and district staff members hosted stations that introduced students to robotics, coding, and engineering, and how these fields play out in the arts.
Before the partnership, the district was already setting up pedagogical coaches like Fusarelli in schools. Verizon will now pay a portion of the salaries of these coaches, which has enabled the district to expand the program and develop best practices.
For Lewis, the partnership came at the right time as the school continues its transition to a full-fledged STEAM academy. The program will help the school with new curricula, new strategies for teachers, new collaborative practices and additional professional development. And the broadband access provided by the device is huge for its students.
“Two years ago when we first came home we had so many kids who didn’t have internet access at home,” said Lewis, who stressed that every student was given a Chromebook before they left school, but not all of them could access what they needed from their homes. “I can’t tell you how many kids we got from emails literally going to the laundromat or somewhere they could connect to Wi-Fi just to do their job.”
He added, “With these new 5G Chromebooks, that’s no longer a reason students can’t access and connect with the world.”
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