Despite the cancellation of many summer activities this year, local students still enjoyed virtual summer camps thanks to Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc. After three successful years of sponsoring STEM summer camps at local schools, this year’s need to continue the program was significant to keep students engaged and learning throughout the summer months.
Ashley Furniture and the school districts of Arcadia, Galesville-Ettrick-Trempealeau and Independence developed a plan to provide a virtual STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning experience for elementary and middle school students. Using a pocket-sized, multi-functional programming tool called a Micro:bit, students and teachers were able to safely learn coding and programming through an online format at home.
The two-week camp, which had 86 participants between the three schools, was structured in conjunction with the schools’ existing summer school programs – similarly as past years. This year, however, participants picked up kits the week before the camp that included materials they would need to complete projects at home, including school-issued laptops.
Ashley’s $10,000 financial contribution allowed students who participated in the program to keep their Micro:bit free of charge. As part of the partnership, training sessions were also provided by Fox Valley Technical College to allow the teaching staff the opportunity to become familiar with the coding and programming capabilities of the Micro:bits. The school districts of Blair-Taylor and Whitehall, who also received donated equipment, have plans to incorporate the Micro:bits into their middle school class curriculum later this year.
Although instructors had to adapt to a new format quickly and were unable to assist with projects in person, students successfully programmed their end-projects: a wearable activity tracker complete with flashing emoticons, a beating heart light display, and a working step-counter.
“This year’s offering was fantastic as it provided a great learning opportunity for our students,” said Allene Horton, Instructional Technology Coordinator at G-E-T School District. “One parent reached out and thanked me for bringing a smile back to her daughter who absolutely loved this camp.”
Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc., feels that every person deserves more value for their money. Established in 1945, Ashley is one of the largest manufacturers of home furnishings in the world, and was named one of America’s Best Employers by Forbes in 2017. From design through fulfillment, Ashley is committed to delivering the world’s best home furnishing values, selection and service, and earning the loyalty and trust of its customers every day. Visit Ashley online at www.ashleyfurnitureindustriesinc.com and “like” Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc., on Facebook.