W-F invests in technology for elementary schools
By Angie Landsverk
As the Weyauwega-Fremont School District prepares to launch Project Lead the Way this fall, it also plans to incorporate the idea at the elementary level.
It wants to do so by leasing mini iPads which would be used during science lessons in the elementary classrooms.
“The board has made significant progress. We have two instructors at MSOE (Milwaukee School of Engineering) this week getting trained on the curriculum,” District Administrator Scott Bleck said Monday, Aug. 8, during the W-F School Board’s Committee of the Whole meeting.
Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is a nonprofit which provides K-12 science, technology education and math (STEM) programs.
Last November, the school board voted to add three new engineering classes to the high school’s course offerings as part of bringing the PLTW curriculum to that level.
The three new courses are Introduction to Engineering and Design, Pricniples of Engineering and Aerospace Engineering.
PLTW Launch is the nonprofit’s program for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
Bleck said the district will take that concept to the elementary level.
He said elementary staff members received training this summer for the curriculum.
“In the elementary, the manipulations will be more technology based,” Bleck said.
As a result, a request to lease 64 iPads went before the board for discussion this week.
The board is expected to take action on the request when it meets again on Monday, Aug. 22.
An equipment bid waiver request is being sought because Apple is currently the only vendor who provides applications for PLTW, Bleck explained.
In addition, over the past few months, Apple eliminated the ability of public entities to seek multiple bids from private businesses for the purchase of Apple devices, he said.
“We anticipate Project Lead the Way to be a long-standing piece of curriculum. We know the application process will not stand still,” Bleck said. “So, we are recommending that we lease the (mini) iPads for a three-year period and then re-evaluate to see if other companies are now providing the devices and applications.”
The annual lease payment for the 64 devices would be $5,039 or a total of $15,117.
Drew Niehans, the school district’s business manager, said that compares to $16,276, if the district bought all the devices.
At the end of the three-year lease agreement, the district could either pay the difference between that cost and the lease arrangement ($1,158.37) to then buy the mini iPads out right, or return them.
The cost of leasing the devices would come out of the district’s textbook/curriculum budget.
Elementary Principal Doug Nowak said six staff members – representing each of the grade levels – received training at MSOE for the curriculum.
They will then be the support teachers.
Five or six mini iPads will be dedicated to each grade level, he said.
Elementary students will not use the technology to do projects or assignments. The technology will present images to them, Nowak said.
He said elementary teachers from the W-F district traveled to Elkhorn to watch how elementary students there use the technology.
Students as young as kindergarten were excited about how they were using it, Nowak said.