Penn College receives $314,440 PAsmart grant

Published 07.28.2022

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The Pennsylvania Department of Education has awarded Pennsylvania College of Technology a PAsmart Advancing Computer Science and STEM Education Grant.

The $314,440 grant is part of a Department of Education initiative to help regions grow partnerships between LEAs (Local Education Agencies), higher-education institutions, businesses, early childhood institutions, community groups, and other computer science/STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)-focused organizations.

Pennsylvania College of Technology has been awarded a $314,440 PAsmart grant that will be used to familiarize middle school students with careers in manufacturing and construction. The partnerships are designed to remove barriers and provide access to CS/STEM experiences for historically underserved populations, as well as to expand the pool of highly qualified CS/STEM educators statewide.

“Penn College is very excited for this opportunity to collaborate with industry partners and K-12 educators to showcase technical career opportunities and engaging learning activities within manufacturing and construction to middle school students,” said Tanya Berfield, director of K-12 outreach. “We believe that career exposure at the middle school level is more important than ever, as those students are soon making high school pathway decisions that often lead to career choices.”

Penn College will use its grant to pursue an exposure campaign for middle school students. The goal is to increase awareness of career pathways and opportunities for jobs within manufacturing and construction; computer science skills are needed within those career pathways. The middle school population was selected based on current college and career practices within Pennsylvania secondary education. The aim is to create an awareness of manufacturing and construction career sectors, the variety of pathways within those sectors, and the skills needed for those careers.

Career pathways include career, military, pre-apprenticeship, and postsecondary education. The exposure campaign includes two educator externships per year: one focused on manufacturing, the other on construction. The externships provide middle school educators with efficient and effective training, classroom technology equipment, and lessons that align with the new science standards.

Educators will take their training and experiences from the externship to deliver lessons to the middle school students. The lessons will include three-dimensional and inquiry-based learning within the new science standards related to CS skills for the career pathways of manufacturing and construction.

The activity will culminate in an annual student showcase and junior career fair. Students will showcase projects that are the culmination of the educators’ experiences. Simultaneously, industry partners will demonstrate how these skills are associated with their workforce. The showcase/junior career fair will be open to the community.

Penn College will also create a lending library and lessons bank that will be open to educators who have participated in the externships. The lending library will include items such as a thermoformer, 3D printer, Lean Lego manufacturing kit, etc. Each item within the lending library will include a curricular lesson and career pathway information. The lesson bank will include lessons created based on educators’ experiences at the externship and equipment provided for the use of other educators who attended the camps.

Penn College is a national leader in applied technology education. For more, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.