School programs and technology operate on state grants
HUGHESVILLE – Education is important and board member, Michael Pawlik, of the the East Lycoming Education Foundation proudly remarks on the gains the organization has made for the schools in the district.
Recently a contribution of $2,035 was made by M&T Bank as part of the EITC program. This is a state funded program administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. Companies doing business in the state get tax credits when they contribute to scholarship organizations, educational improvement organizations and-or pre-kindergarten scholarship organizations.
The East Lycoming Education Foundation is an approved EITC organization, and one of few according to Pawlik. “Our foundation recently completed a round of innovative teaching grants in the district. We have now given out over $100,000 of grants and scholarships in just three years.”
In the four years of its existence, the foundation has raised over $600,000. Much of this comes from pooling EITC funds. There is an audit every year, and the foundation operates with expenses under $700. “There is not one single paid foundation member,” said Pawlik, Superintendent of East Lycoming School District.
The funds have been well spent, going towards scholarships and teacher grants. “These endowed scholarships will last forever,” Pawlik added because they are spending the interest, not the principal.
Five 3-D printers and one laser printer were some of the most innovative purchases so far, and they are placed in each library of the education buildings according to Pawlik. A demonstration of the laser printer in the high school biology lab revealed how it can print three dimensional objects by using compatible software like AutoCAD. “This is a real world experience in engineering,” Pawlik explained. The actual laser engraver is very precise and cooled with carbon dioxide. “Kids can design, engineer and develop prototypes.”
STEM instructor John Tamblin said 3-D printers run in layers using small beads of plastic. Waste is minimum and scraps will be used to make more filament. Three more laser printers arrived early March. Other STEM instructors are Brandi Dillon and Dan Zerbe.
STEM is a curriculum based program instituted in 2014 to educate the students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics with an interdisciplinary and applied approach. This technology helps students choose different from different careers according to Tamblin. “Imagine a 3-D printer that can now make a small two room house,” Pawlik remarked.
The printers also prompted an engineering club that meets Monday afternoons. “They are learning to make robots,” added Tamblin. “They gain practical use, learn to give dimensions and make something that would go to local businesses.” Last year the students made ear buds that look like teeth for a dentist and another one in the shape of a gear for an auto dealer. Students can earn a credit course based on “hands-on creativity.”
This is also great exposure for the female students who are under-represented in the sciences. “They can develop a passion for science in 7th grade.”
Foundation board members are volunteers who are appointed and live and work in the East Lycoming School District. They meet once every three months. Pawlik is executive director, Geneva Peck is president and Mike Bieber, vice-president. Every year the foundation committee looks at applications and votes on which projects to fund. Most of the requests come from the teachers. “Sometimes we spend hours discussing which ones to fund,” Pawlik said. Other times, requisitions might be placed on hold.
With this most recent round of grants, they are looking at raising trout in the biology classrooms, that is, from raising the fish eggs to releasing them according to Pawlik who is very excited about this project.
The science department, specifically plant biology, will be installing a hydroponic system where water comes from a huge holding tank and is pumped from the tank into the growing plants. Tilapia fish will be added which feed off fish manure from the water that gets recycled back into the tank. “Everyone benefits,” said Pawlik. The LCTC students will be using the food that is grown and fertilized for their culinary arts program, as well as learning the science behind horticulture. The initial expense includes hardware and set-up funded through the EITC grants. Mainenance is low cost.
Another program funded with EITC is the summer camp recreation program held at Ashkar Elementary School and Hughesville High School. Last year was the first, and over 100 kids in the district registered at no cost to them. Available programs for this year will be announced the end of April. Each class runs for two weeks and is limited to 7 to 8. A new course added this year will be advanced robotics for the elementary students, and another is designed to learn how to make movies. “Kids have a great time while learning.” Pawlik also said some of the kids enjoyed it so much last summer, they would show up early to start their projects. There were 20 selections last year and up to 30 are expected for this year. Students may take more than one course.