APS gets $135K from Besser Foundation

Computers, software, robotics to be funded

ALPENA — Alpena Public Schools has been awarded $135,000 from the Besser Foundation for 2019.

The grant allows the district to keep implementing the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) curriculum in the district.

The district’s robotics program was awarded $30,000 of the grant, with $20,000 being used toward Robotix, a robotics program, and $10,000 being used to build out the Alpena High School B-Wing safe tool robotics storage area.

Meaghan Gauthier, director of K-12 curriculum, said remodeling the robotics room would provide a safer environment for the students.

Superintendent John VanWagoner said the idea right now is to knock a wall between the robotics room and the welding lab. That would add a new room with a glass wall so teachers and mentors can see what the students are doing in both rooms.

“That’s the plan right now and part of the recommendation is we do have to put a group together to review that plan,” VanWagoner said. “We’re hoping in the next week or so to get that committee together to see if they’ll approve of those items so we’re hoping to get that worked on.”

Project Lead the Way, a hands-on learning program throughout the district, will be allocated $40,000 of the grant to purchase 34 laptops to implement a new Computer Science for Innovators and Makers class at Thunder Bay Junior High School next school year.

Gauthier said a new, more powerful computer is needed to handle the software.

“We’re still working out some logistics with this, so more details are to come,” Gauthier said of the new class.

One thing new coming to the district will be MakerSpace innovative classrooms, which will take up $21,000 of the grant. Gauthier said the focus will be remodeling three classrooms in the district to accommodate Lead the Way processes.

The funds will be utilized to acquire flexible furniture and equipment.

The Chromebook initiative in the district will keep expanding, with $41,000 being used to purchase new Chromebook computers. Ninety-six new tablets will be purchased for elementary school use.

The district is working toward each elementary school student having their own Chromebook for use while at school, but that goal is still a ways from happening. The district still needs 850 Chromebooks.

The remaining $20,000 of the grant will be used to fund the Besser “Mini Grant” program. That will be disbursed for the remainder of the school year.

A final account of the grants will be provided to the Besser Foundation no later than Nov. 1, along with a final report identifying the objectives and outcomes of the grant.

Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com. Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.