Pikeville Elementary School’s students helped the school earn a large grant, which was delivered this week.
On Wednesday, representatives from entrepreneurial education organization EntreEd and Big Sandy Community and Technical College met with school staff members to deliver a $5,000 cheque to help fund the school’s STEAM — or Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts/Agriculture, Math — program. The school won the grant following pitching what Co-District Technology Coordinator Neil Arnett called the school’s “Collaboratory” idea, which saw students work with a local business in Pikeville. The students pitched their idea — a slicer for cutting donuts, similar to a cookie cutter — at the EntreEd forum held last September.
Arnett said the funding will be used to create a “maker space” area for students to explore different technology projects and ideas using 3D printers.
“We can create
students who are not only looking for and finding problems in their world, and then creating solutions, but now (are determining) how can we offer those solutions to their community,” Arnett said. “With entrepreneurship, you can offer that through the marketplace. So hopefully we’ll have some kid-trepreneurs some day, student-trepreneurs.”
Arnett said the school has already ordered and received pieces of equipment which will be paid for using the grant. Among that equipment are four new 3D printers. The “maker space area” will be located in the school’s library, which Traci Tackett, who is a retired educator and also serves as director of digital literacy at BitSource, said will help attract kids who are already using the library regularly to take an interest in entrepreneurship.
“It’s to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem where the things the kids are designing aren’t just for the fun of creating, but they serve a purpose, either for business or to solve a problem,” Tackett said.
The grant would not have been possible for Pikeville Elementary if not for a designation the school earned. PES was designated by EntreEd as one on “America’s Entrepreneurial Schools.” EntreEd Regional Coordinator Melony Denham said Pikeville Elementary learned it could become eligible for the designation during the EntreEd forum.
“They learned through the forum and through other avenues that if this school would make sure that every student had at least one lesson in entrepreneurship sometime throughout the school year, then they would be eligible to become one of America’s Entrepreneurial Schools,” she said.
Denham said Big Sandy Community and Technical College was instrumental in helping connect Pikeville Elementary School with EntreEd. Tackett said Big Sandy’s role also helps connect students with a college toward which they could eventually look in their entrepreneurial journey.
The grant is funded through an Appalachian Regional Commission POWER grant. Other schools could be eligible for grant funding. For additional information, those interested can contact Melony Denham at, (606) 563-6291, or Rachelle Burchett, the director of workforce and economic development at Big Sandy CTC, at (606) 788-2863.