MEDWAY — Superintendent Armand Pires and Medway High School Principal John Murray are pleased to announce that the school has recently received a donation from Exelon to purchase robotics equipment.
The donation, in the amount of $8,000, arose from a conversation between the district and Exelon, an energy company based in Chicago, about the equipment needs of the Medway STEM program. The district sent a proposal to Exelon to fund the purchase of equipment for several programs across the district, and the proposal was funded in full.
Archie Gleason, general manager of Exelon’s Northeast Region, and Mark Rodgers, manager of Generation Communications at Exelon, visited Medway High School on Thursday, Oct. 22 to see the equipment in action.
“This is, by far, my most favorite part of my job. I think anyone can make a donation, but I love to see where it’s going, and for the folks in the room who are doing these projects, this is real-world,” Gleason told students. “In a power plant setting, we’ve been generating electricity in Boston since the 1940s in some form or another, and over about the last five to six years, innovation has been the catchphrase; how to do things smarter, how to do things easier, and you folks are what’s gonna do it. You’re going to bring these new ideas, you’re going to look at a wind turbine a little bit differently, or the pitch of the blade or a gearbox, and you’re going to figure out a better way to do it.”
He added, “I’m overjoyed to see everyone so interested and working through the projects. The partnership that we have with you folks, I’m so excited about that and want it to continue.”
Gleason and Rodgers also talked with students about some of the projects they’re working on and how the tools make a difference in those projects.
“Our relationship with Exelon has been going on for a long period of time through their support of our STEM Saturday program, and this is a new layer of support for some of the tools for our students in robotics so we can continue to expand this program,” Superintendent Pires said. “Thank you to Exelon for regularly partnering with us and coming out to see how the funds were put to use.”
With the donation, the district was able to purchase the following equipment:
- Twelve LabQuest 3s, which is a mobile data-collection platform for students to collect and visualize live sensor data.
- Six Advanced Wind Experiment kits, a kit that allows students to design turbine blades and design the gearboxes, mechanical linkages and electrical connections. The kits have multiple possible setups, which allows several teams to iterate their designs and collect data on successive prototypes.
- Twelve Go-direct energy sensors, which measure energy, current, voltage and power output. Students can get real data from the wind experiment designs in order to test prototypes.
- Three Lego Mindstorm kits, which allow students to design and program autonomous robots. The three additional kits fill out the 12 total kits needed for a class set, which allows students to work in pairs during normal circumstances and have their own bot during the hybrid schedule.
- Two Turbidity Sensors, which measure the clarity of water before and after filtration.
The new equipment will be utilized in engineering, physics, robotics and environmental and other sciences classes throughout the year.
“This year in particular, with our hybrid model, it’s really hard to give our students their own devices to work on during class, because usually we share things and we can’t really share in this type of environment,” Principal Murray said. “So this year in particular, to have this grant from Exelon for kids to have their own devices so we don’t have to worry about sharing between one another, is a huge gain for us.”
Much of the equipment is based around data collection. Students can design testing protocols to evaluate their designs, which allows for informed prototyping and iteration of design. This helps students to understand engineering through engagement in the engineering design process.
The equipment also allows students to gain hands-on experience in generating wind energy, design turbines and using gearboxes, and connect these experiences to real-world issues.
“Inquiry, hands-on, lab-based engineering and science experiences are critical for students in a society that is strongly influenced by science and technology. We are very proud to offer a variety of award-winning engineering and hands-on experiences for our students to help them understand their environment and the forces that govern it,” said Jon Jasinski, Medway High School engineering and physics teacher. “Not only does this equipment allow for the continued expansion of our science and technology programs, but it also allows students to have a hands-on experience in a safe environment while adhering to physical distancing protocols and being able to share less equipment this year.”
Medway Public Schools offers students a range of course offerings in science and engineering. Students in grades across the district have also participated in competitions and won awards from the MASS STEM Hub and in the statewide Science Olympiad competition. A Women in STEM (WiSTEM) club, Engineering Club, middle school science fair and STEM Saturday for girls also provide opportunities for students to participate in design challenges and robotics outside of the classroom.