AEC Provides Grant to Local Schools for New Robotics Program

Pictured with the grant presentation is (l to r) Dr. Tommy Arnold, Director of Schools; Mitch Cain, Director of Member Services for AEC; Dr. Sam Hollingshead, Principal of Mt. Horeb Elementary School; Missy Hayes, CE Program Supervisor for Jefferson County Schools; Kim McGhee, AEC Energy Advisor; students and Charley Spencer, TN Valley Robotics.

AEC is collaborating with The Jefferson County Department of Education to develop a robotics program in the elementary setting. The Cooperative will establish a pilot program to begin in one elementary school and include third through fifth grade students. A grant of $4,101.97 from AEC will provide the seed money to launch the pilot program, allowing students to build computer science and robotics interest using VEX GO robotics. The program funding is being provided through TN Valley Robotics, BVI (a TVA retiree organization) and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). According to Missy Hayes, CTE Program Supervisor for Jefferson County Schools, “The VEX platform was chosen because the complexity of robotics increases as the students move to middle and high school. VEX also uses block coding and text coding that aligns to Python, an industry coding standard.” Local middle and high schools use VEX robotics as part of the STEM curriculum. Director of Schools, Dr. Tommy Arnold says, “The versatility of VEX GO as a teaching tool enables teachers to integrate STEM into many areas of their classroom lessons, including literacy and math.”

To launch the pilot program, the local school system selected Mt. Horeb Elementary School. There, third through fifth grade students will make new discoveries and improve their skills in this hands-on program. Charley Spencer with TN Valley Robotics says, “Teaching students the STEM skills needed to prepare them for the future job market is the goal of our efforts.” Through the pilot, the school will receive materials, supplies and training to ensure sufficient resources are available for maximum student participation. Mt. Horeb Principal, Dr. Sam Hollingshead, said he is eager to implement the learning opportunity.

AEC Director of Member Services, Mitch Cain, says, “AEC empowers education in our local schools by assisting teachers and administrators with support resources and encouraging students to become lifelong learners. We are pleased to have a vital partnership with Jefferson County Schools and appreciate our partners at TN Valley Robotics and TVA in helping us make a difference.”

More about Appalachian Electric Cooperative

AEC receives power from TVA at four delivery point substations and operates 12 distribution substations across the service area, serving portions of Jefferson, Hamblen, Hawkins, Grainger and Sevier counties. AEC serves over 49,000 members across 2,729 miles of utility line.