AIU Teacher Tech Library To Open For 2015-16 School Year

May 18, 2015

How to use air quality assessors to measure pollution, robots to teach coding skills and conductive sewing to create bike vests that illuminate at night: These are just a few of the things educators are learning at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s transformED classroom.

The Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation and the Citrone Fund have given a $40,000 grant to the AIU to update transformED and to create a lending library of its innovative resources.

Megan Ciccone, the curriculum and reading coordinator at the AIU, said that the transformED classroom is a “digital playground” at their headquarters where educators can learn about new technologies in education. It is part of the Center for Creativity that aims to infuse creativity into how instructors teach STEAM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics).

“It’s a space that’s just dedicated to having a safe environment for teachers to be able to manipulate and explore innovative, instructional practices,” Ciccone said.

The AIU has taught courses for hundreds of PreK-12 educators throughout southwestern Pennsylvania on how to incorporate new technologies into their lessons. Recently, family and consumer science teachers learned how to combine circuitry with sewing to create headbands with LED lights.

The first $20,000 of the grant will be used to add resources to this classroom and to fund future courses. The remainder will go toward creating a lending library for transformED alumni. Ciccone said the idea for the library came from the high demand for these items used during on-site training.

“When you learn something, and you’re passionate about it, you want to turn it around immediately and implement it into your classroom,” Ciccone said.

Because some public educators lack sufficient funding to purchase these items, the AIU receives frequent requests to borrow everything from iPad sensors to modular robotics. This lending library will serve as a way for educators to bring needed resources back home.

The AIU and the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation have partnered on projects in the past. Previously, the Foundation donated Kindle tablets to about 60 schools within the AIU network as part of the Tablets in Education program.

“The folks at the AIU, whether it be from getting with the curriculum directors (or) meeting with the superintendents, you know, they really make sure that the programs we fund take hold,” said Dave Soltesz, president of the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation.

Ciccone said educators will take courses beginning this summer on how to use these resources before they can begin borrowing. AIU officials expect the library to open for the 2015-16 school year.