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Teacher receives grant for Raspberry tech

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

STEM Academy teacher Jay LeCroy has been awarded a $1,000 Bright Ideas grant from Central Alabama Electric Cooperative to purchase Raspberry Pi hardware for his classroom.

“Central Alabama Electric has been a huge supporter over the years, not just in grants, but in knowledge,” LeCroy said. “By meeting with them on a regular basis, I get an idea of what is going on in the real world as a teacher. They have been a huge advocate of the STEM program.”

The hardware has been used by the program for several years.

“But, we never had a full classroom set,” LeCroy said.

Grant funds will be used to purchase “the computer brain” circuit boards and hardware accessories to have a classroom set.

Seniors in the program will use the components to create their own projects. LeCroy said these students have spent the last three years “learning how to program, learning how to build, understanding engineering design, and then the end of their senior year, they develop their own projects.”

LeCroy said the components are a “modern look at what is going on in the world of STEM.”

The technology keeps upgrading and changing, LeCroy said, so it can be a challenge for teachers to make sure their program is teaching up-to-date information and skills.

“One of the biggest problems we have is writing curriculum that keeps up,” LeCroy said. “For most academic teachers, not much changes over the years, but for us, it is a constant moving target to stay up with industry to have the students ready to go to work.”

The Raspberry Pi components have at least 10 computer languages it is compatible with.

“It is a platform that allows growth,” LeCroy said. “It is flexible, and it will adapt to what is coming down the line.”

Fellow STEM teacher Jason Sosa was also a part of Raspberry Pi first being used in the classes. Past projects have included a drone, weather station and clock, lighted signs, a Segway and a cybersecurity components.

Surplus monitors, keyboards and computer mice can be plugged into the Raspberry Pi mother board. LeCroy said it can also be used to program robots. He said the components are the same as what is inside a computer.

The STEM Academy is a program of the Chilton County Schools LeCroy Career Technical Center.