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July 31, 2017

Front (L-R): Christina Phyall, South Salem Elementary; Lisa Phillips, Dart Foundation; Jesse Daniel, South Salem Elementary; Sarah Norton, Dart Foundation; Beth Gressel, South Salem Elementary; and Terran Hovers, South Salem Elementary. 
Back (L-R): Adam McGee, Dart Foundation; Farren Elliott, Dart Foundation; and Avery Edge, Dart Foundation.

South Salem Elementary School is the recipient of a grant from the Dart Foundation to enhance the school’s STEM program for second and third grade students. Representatives from the Dart Foundation visited the school on July 27 to present principal Terran Hovers and teachers Jesse Daniel, Beth Gressel, and Christina Phyall, who together authored the grant, with a check for $3,500 to implement their program, “Full STEAM Ahead with Robotics.”

“We truly appreciate the support of the Dart Foundation,” said Terran Hovers, principal of South Salem Elementary School. “Their local foundation has supported our school system over the years with grants similar to the one our school received today. Through their generosity, our teachers can enhance our STEM program and provide an amazing experience for our students using hands-on, engaging, and challenging projects in the realm of robotics.  I’m proud of the teachers for applying for this grant and excited for the students, who are the true beneficiaries.”

According to Hovers, the project will introduce economically disadvantaged students at the school to the engaging world of robotics.

“The teachers will use science, technology, engineering, art, and math to engage students in hands-on robotics lessons,” Hovers explained. “The students will use ‘Sphero’ and ‘Dash and Dot’ robots to globally collaborate and become innovators.”

“The students will become empowered to learn computer programming and begin to explore engineering skills,” added Phyall. “We envision our students being excited as they are able to learn coding.”

Gressel noted the students would even “learn how to program the robots to complete various tasks like navigating through an obstacle course.”

“We want to foster a love for science and plant seeds for careers in the fields of science, technology, and engineering,” Daniel explained. “Our goal is to create cross curricular and hands-on lessons that inspire students to be innovative, life-long learners.”

“South Salem’s project is well-aligned with the Dart Foundation mission because one of our top funding priorities is STEM education,” said Emily Matthews, Dart Foundation Manager. “It also matches well with our grant guidelines which emphasize tangible items such as equipment and serves a large segment of the student population. South Salem also articulated a strong project implementation plan and both staff and students seem to be thoroughly engaged.”

Matthews added, “The Dart Foundation’s co-founder, W.A. Dart, was thinking about, talking about, and advancing STEM education long before “STEM” became the universal acronym we all use so freely today. The Dart Foundation Board continues to honor his legacy by making STEM education a primary focus of giving. The Board believes that by providing teachers with the tools to educate the next generation, this will help them improve their quality of life and that of their community in the future.”