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Blog // Connect Ohio

GE Foundation Provides Grant for Cincinnati Public Schools to Enhance Technology in the Classroom

By Lyndsey Kleven

In 2011, the GE Foundation donated a grant of $5.3 million to Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) as part of a three-year extension to implement the Common Core State Standards, goals each student must meet in order to ensure they are prepared for extended learning opportunities.

40 Cincinnati Public Schools participated in the partnership with GE to embark on yearlong capstone projects taken on by 4th through 8th grade students. Much of the funding went toward purchasing technology equipment to be placed in the classrooms specifically for this project.

Classrooms received two or more technology backpacks, with guidelines for the teachers assigning capstone projects. The technology backpacks included a Mac Book Pro, a Sony blogger camera, and tripod, with some packs containing bamboo tablets to enhance projects.

In 2012, Hartwell Elementary participated in the pilot capstone project with the curriculum featuring science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) solutions to social problems, integrating science, history, literacy, and math components. Students used the digital backpacks to record and create their projects; most grades working collaboratively in groups with some of the higher-grade levels taking on individualized projects.

“It’s important for students to experience project-based learning and how to effectively utilize current technology,” said Ashley Storch, middle school social studies teacher at Hartwell Elementary. “Working collaboratively in groups at an early age enables students to develop their interpersonal skills — a skill that will remain crucial throughout life, while also learning with technology. It’s a great opportunity for students of various socioeconomic statuses to gain exposure to technology they may not be exposed to elsewhere.”

From the success of the program in 2012, Hartwell is participating in the program again this school year. Storch’s classroom received 5 technology backpacks to be shared among the 28 students in her classroom.

Last year some of capstone projects included students creating water pressure resistance and distribution systems for use in Africa, thermal energy, and more — all requiring working in teams with hands-on learning projects, critical questions with solutions, and creative thinking.

Storch says the capstone projects allow for the students to utilize new technology and create an individualized learning process. The highlight for most of the students is taking the research they find and using the blogger camera to make a movie from their findings, with the final projects being edited using iMovie. 

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