Pennsylvania School District wins $100K to create a hands-on STEAM Learning Lab
The Schneider Electric Bold Ideas contest was designed to encourage school districts to think about their vision for the future. The top bold ideas revealed a number of key trends that districts are exploring, including a focus on STEAM-oriented facilities, the emergence of learning labs and experiential learning opportunities and ideas that help schools engage more directly with the community at large. Career development, specifically helping students build new skills through technology improvements and faculty training in specialized education tactics, were also showcased in the submissions.
The Winning Bold Idea
There’s no better example of this philosophy in action than this year’s Bold Ideas winner, Moon Area School District (Moon ASD), in Moon Township, PA. The school’s bold idea was to create a fully functioning aquaponics laboratory — the combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (the soil-less growing of plants) in one integrated system. As the winner of the contest, Moon Area School District, received $100,000 and access to Schneider Electric’s team of experts to support its bold idea. Moon ASD’s winning idea was selected from hundreds of submissions made by schools nationwide.
The aquaponics lab will provide student STEAM experiences including hands-on training in sustainability, development of work skills for special-needs students and opportunities in a variety of disciplines to solve real-world problems. The goal of the aquaponics lab is to grow the district’s curriculum in science, technology, business, special education and engineering.
This school’s vision is truly bold. Teachers and administrators envision engineering students designing and building the aquaponic pond as the special-needs students grow plants and fish while learning about sustainability in agricultural methods. Business classes will then research which plants and fish are the most profitable to farm, while science classes apply sustainability concepts needed for successful production.
The school is already receiving grants and developing partnerships with several local farmers, local universities and even the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to help reach its goal. Eventually, the school plans to sell its products to local restaurants and markets so students can further learn about sales, marketing and transport.
“The overall impact of this project will be life changing for student learning, thinking and responding to the challenges they will face with future food production and the connection with STEAM careers,” says Superintendent Maureen Ungarean. “We are excited by the opportunity Schneider Electric is giving us to invest in our students’ future. Creating dynamic, hands-on learning opportunities, like this aquaponics lab, will enhance our existing programs and help all of our students graduate from Moon Area High School ready for college and career success.”
Bold Ideas Across the Country
In addition to the $100,000 grand prize, Schneider Electric awarded $5,000 prizes to four additional finalists. The other finalists were:
- Big Spring High School, Big Spring, TX for helping students find their voice through the modernization of spaces for audio, video and visual production.
- Savannah Chatham County Public Schools, Savannah, GA for the creation of an innovative teaching center including model classrooms equipped for Balance Literacy, STEM labs and Arts labs, allowing teachers to improve their professional development.
- Hemlock Public School District, Hemlock, MI for the creation of a STEM Center to inspire STEM exploration for K-12 students in the Great Lakes Bay Region.
- Alhambra Unified School District, Alhambra, CA for the funding of a S’more Learning Camp adventure for fifth-grade students to participate in a hands-on, residential outdoor science camp at a local YMCA.
All the winning ideas showcased a commitment to advancing the student experience and the community at large, ultimately advancing these districts’ ambition to create future-ready students who are well prepared thanks to innovation in education.
Accelerating Innovation in K-12 Education
This kind of aspiration reflects Schneider Electric’s overall goal to use energy and technology to help clients achieve their mission and vision.
“We want to congratulate the Moon Area School District and all the winners for thinking outside of the box to design ideas that will spark meaningful change for their districts for years to come. We look forward to helping them bring their vision to life,” says Tammy Fulop, Vice President, Schneider Electric.
District leaders are under considerable pressure to find new ways to modernize classrooms, upgrade technologies and expand student engagement, all in the face of growing funding challenges. Schneider Electric is dedicated to helping schools at both the K-12 and higher ed level develop the bold ideas that will shape the future of education through energy saving performance contracts (ESPC).
This project delivery method helps publicly funded entities achieve substantial energy and operational savings that can be reinvested to make capital improvements and priority advancements. In addition, these projects offer many long-term benefits such as improved facility efficiency, occupant comfort, financial management and environmental protection. Over the past 26 years, Schneider Electric has successfully implemented more than 750 ESPC projects across the nation, saving its clients more than $2.5 billion.
For more information on how Schneider Electric helps K-12 schools achieve their goals, please visit www.enable.schneider-electric.com.