OLPH earned a nearly $5,000 grant from the Central Maryland Chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) as part of the association’s STEM Kickstarter initiative. We will use the funds to expand our robotics program. Joseph Karolchik, the AFCEA STEM Kickstarter Lead presented the check to Mr. Pellechia, accompanied by our student council officers, Addison Brvenik, John Harris, Alex Graccil, and James Hildreth.
The grant will allow us to grow our after-school Robotics Club and form grade-level teams to compete in local robotics competitions with other schools through programs such as the First Lego League, VEX IQ, and the Catholic Robotics League of Baltimore. OLPH School parent, Jerri Stewart, who initiated the grant, will be highly involved in the new programs, stating, “I am very excited for our students and look forward to volunteering in many robotics competitions.” Our current after-school club serves grades 6-8; with the new kits and equipment, students from kindergarten through eighth grade will be able to participate in this STEM opportunity.
Kindergarten through third grade will use WeDO 2.0 to learn basic programming skills, simple engineering concepts, and the names of robot components. Students in grades four to eight will work with Lego Ev3 Mindstorms and the VEX IQ robotic system to learn how to build and program robots and work in small groups to complete projects using tilt and motion sensors.
This expansion is part of our long-range strategic plan which included building an interactive learning center and computer lab in 2014, equipping classrooms with interactive projectors in 2015, and launching a 1:1 Chromebook program in 2016.
In 2018 we will build a makerspace, a type of STEM lab, which will continue to be our art room, but will also be used for Robotics Club, Lego Club, Girls’ STEM Club, community maker events, cross-curricular activities, X-STREAM Makers Club, Art Club, Coding Club, and supplemental hands-on lessons for grades K-8. Mr. Pellechia stated, “It’s imperative to foster 21st century skills in our students and prepare them for the demands of high school and of a digital and global workforce.”