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UGI gives iPads to third graders to support STEM education
March 1, 2017

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LAIRDSVILLE - A special tour was given to representatives of the UGI Energy Services last Tuesday at the Carl G. Renn Elementary School in Lairdsville. For UGI Energy Services and Sunbury Pipeline recently made an extensive contribution to the school for the students to support STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

East Lycoming School District Superintendent Mike Pawlik said he is proud to have this partnership and because of their donation, all students at Renn now have i-Pads and new covers for them.

"It is wonderful to be able to work with such a community minded organization. Their dedication to our students and community is greatly appreciated," Pawlik announced.

Through a great deal of collaboration, the district was able to upgrade science instructional materials, including 40 i-Pads.

UGI also sponsored the military appreciation game in the fall according to Patti Wylie, curriculum director for the district. "This program at Renn is a hands on approach and focuses on career orientation," Wylie said. "Students are open to careers they never thought of before, especially technology," she explained.

The i-Pads make learning more approachable for students as well as expanding their horizons.

"Our kids are digital learners," Pawlik replied. "The i-Pads have leveled the playing field for a lot of kids. They know what's going on all the time."

Adam Creasy, the district's technology director, said that most of the learning is done digitally which results in no overdue fines. He also said that most families in the district have internet access now. "There are well over 1600 mobile devices in the district, mostly one on one," said Creasy. "Sixth graders are learning programming now."

State funding can be a challenge and the district is grateful for the corporation's donation. Representatives from UGI will be visiting the classrooms periodically to be guest speakers so that they can share with the students the various careers available in engineering and technology.

Wylie explained that this program will help develop the students for college and graduate study in these fields and some of the careers only need a two year degree, including some of the engineering positions and trade jobs. "We have introduced more females too, despite the given stereotypes," she added.

Pam Witmer, Vice President of Governmental Affairs for UGI said, "We are proud to be a partner with Renn Elementary." The company revealed they are opening up a wide horizon of opportunities for the students and that they are here "for the long term."

"This is one of our biggest projects," commented Witmer who also stated that so far Renn is the only school they are working with. "We wanted to start first with the elementary students and tie in with the teaching units. The concept is to understand what's out there," Witmer added, "and utilize their known interests."

A visit was made to Mr. Patrick Fortin's third grade classroom where each student received the latest version of the i-Pad. Jacob, a student, said he likes to use Study Island, one of the apps on his i-Pad and Faith, another third grader said she uses News-o-Matic, an app that brings the latest news reports. "I get to learn new things and read about special subjects," she said. Fortin said the kids were excited to receive the i-Pads and the newest version.

Wylie said each student has their own account and blue ribbons are given out if everything is right!

In addition to subject-specific learning, STEM aims to foster inquiring minds, logical reasoning, and collaboration skills.

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