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Coke of Greenfield sponsoring tech program at PVRSD

  • Pioneer Valley Regional School



Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

NORTHFIELD — Coca-Cola of Greenfield is the first sponsor in Pioneer Valley Regional School District’s initiative to expand its technological resources and engineering programs.

Financially, the sponsorship includes an up-front donation of $4,500 for technology supplies and an agreement to donate 100 percent of the profits from in-school sales of water bottles — projected to be between $8,000 and $10,000 a year — to the district’s technology fund.

But the deal also came with an engineering challenge posed to the middle school robotics club: design an alternative to the dolly carts that workers use to move boxes — and make it able to go up and down stairs.

“We need to source young talent,” said Nicholas Stevens, a sales manager for Coca-Cola in Greenfield. “If we can encourage that, selfishly that’s great, and that’s great for the workforce in general.”

Pioneer Superintendent Jon Scagel expects to finalize more sponsorships like this one in the coming months. He envisions a win-win scenario for the school district and the local businesses that partner with it, in which students get hands-on experience with real engineering problems that businesses deal with, and local companies gain a pipeline of well educated workers.

“Ultimately what we’re trying to do, like with Coca-Cola, is to form long-term relationships where our students could get internships and possibly jobs,” Scagel said.

Meanwhile, the district gets funding to incorporate new technology into curricula and to cultivate existing tech-related programs, like the robotics clubs, which Scagel and Technology Director John Heffernan hope will soon be able to compete in tournaments; and the woodshop, which they want to turn into a “maker space” with current technology like 3D printers.

The approach that Pioneer is taking with technology and engineering, Heffernan said, emphasizes students’ abilities to understand the human needs that their work must address. As in the partnership with Coca-Cola, students will work through the entire design process, from engineering the solution to presenting it and selling it to a customer.

“We’re trying to get these kids that have all this creative energy but they have nowhere to channel that in a traditional school environment,” Heffernan said. “We don’t want to be squashing kids’ creativity. We want to be channeling it.”