Jenina Sorenson cannot wait until her students return for classes at Ernie Pyle School 90 to be immersed in the first fully-funded grade school STEM lab in Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS).
Thanks to the contributions from NextGear Capital and Cox Enterprises, students enrolled in pre-kindergarten to sixth-grade STEM classes will have access to 3-D printers and various types of robotics equipment to help spur their imaginations.
“I’m simply stunned by all the tools that are now available to the students to use and more is on the way,” said Sorenson, who noted that IPS is working to expand STEM education to students in the district through Rebuilding Stronger. Starting with the 2023-24 school year, the initiative will replicate and expand high-demand, higher-performing programs in more neighborhoods and for more students.
IPS will both increase seats in higher-performing schools and increase the number of high-demand schools, thanks to the passage of the $410 million 2023 Capital Referendum. IPS also will make significant improvements to modernize facilities.
“These new tools allow the students to build and explore robotics in different ways,” Sorenson said. “The students get to see their creation from the beginning to the end. Including in some cases making these creations move. It brings more hands-on learning to the students. It enhances the learning already taking place in the classroom.”
Funded by a combined $50,000 donation, NextGear Capital employees outfitted and assembled the classroom at Ernie Pyle Elementary School on July 21 in partnership with the TechPoint Foundation for Youth.
NextGear Capital employees set up the donated technology and other equipment including new iPads, a 3D printer, a VEX GO construction system, Sphero programmable robots, and other educational activities that help children learn fundamental STEM concepts through play-based learning.
Volunteers also assembled classroom furniture and took part in other tasks to complete the space such as hanging a Lego wall and other classroom decorations.
The classroom creation was inspired by Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises’ “34 by 34” social impact initiative that launched last year. The goal is to empower 34 million people to live more prosperous lives by 2034 by taking meaningful action in communities where the company’s employees live and work. NextGear Capital, located in Carmel, Indiana, is affiliated with Cox Enterprises.
“We are immensely grateful for the financial and volunteer support of NextGear Capital and Cox Enterprises to help us transform the STEM classroom at Ernie Pyle,” said George Giltner, president, and CEO of TechPoint Foundation for Youth. “This partnership paves the way for accessible STEM education, inspiring young students to unleash their imagination, explore, learn and become future problem solvers who will shape a brighter tomorrow.”