Here are examples of how some school districts in the region will use the grants from the Grable and Benedum foundations in the 2013-14 school year:
• Beaver Falls High School -- design, manufacture and construct solar modules on the roof of the high school.
• Blackhawk High School -- develop a lab that focuses on creation, collaboration and competition to develop 3D printing and robotics projects.
• Green Valley Primary School, East Allegheny School District -- start a yearlong project to design a city in conjunction with a local engineering company.
• Keystone Oaks School District -- establish "digital playgrounds" at the middle and high schools to teach students computer programming and gaming skills.
• Ligonier Valley School District -- establish specific STEAM classrooms at the elementary schools where students can learn through hands-on discovery.
• North Hills School District -- transform the libraries at the junior high and high school into small-group collaborative areas for research and media labs.
• Union High School, Burgettstown -- set up a robotics lab.
The Grable Foundation also funds a program called TransformED, which provides technology training for teachers and is offered through the Allegheny Intermediate Unit.
"We provide a digital playground for teachers," Ros-anne Javorsky, assistant director at the AIU, said. "Sometimes students are very tech savvy, and we want teachers to be one step ahead of them. We provide circuit boards, hummingbird robots, Apple TVs, green screens, iPads and 3D printers, so teachers can learn from each other in a non-threatening space."
This summer, the AIU is holding a weeklong workshop for 20 teachers in game design. Teachers might use the technology in a science, math or literature course, she said. "It's a method of delivering content which encourages collaboration, problem solving and creative thinking, which is what we want," she said.
-- Debra Duncan