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Ardagh Group Gives Burlington Schools $180K in STEM Grants

A glass manufacturing business in Wisconsin issued grants to Burlington Area School District to teach modules designed by Project Lead the Way about computer science, engineering and other subjects.

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(TNS) — In May, the glass manufacturing business Ardagh Group reached out to the Burlington Area School District about providing money for instruction on science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs.

The school district readily agreed and applied over the summer for grants to fund the programs.

"When Ardagh reached out wanting to partner with us to provide funding for STEM courses, we really wanted to jump on that opportunity," said Jill Oelslager, BASD assistant superintendent of instructional services.

BASD ultimately received seven grants, one for each of its schools, totaling $180,000 to support STEM instruction. Burlington High School received $50,000, Karcher Middle School received $30,000 and all five BASD elementary schools received $20,000.

"It'll be exciting, and it's just awesome that we have that money coming into the school district to support STEM initiatives," Oelslager said.

Taylor Wishau, BASD board member and treasurer, agreed.

"It's crucial we as a school district and country put a stronger emphasis on STEM programs," Wishau wrote in an email. "I am incredibly thankful to Ardagh for their generous donation ... I look forward to seeing how our incredible staff will utilize these funds to best serve our students."

In 2021, Ardagh, a glass, metal and recycling company, announced a 10-year, $50 million program to support STEM education in the 24 U.S. communities in which the company has offices, including Burlington, where Ardagh has a plant.

During Monday's BASD board meeting, Oelslager provided an update on how the grant money will be used. Ardagh is paying for BASD to teach modules designed by Project Lead the Way, a nonprofit that develops STEM curriculum. BASD elementary, middle and high school instructors will receive training to teach the modules.

For STEM courses at the elementary school level, there are 43 potential modules for students to learn about many subjects, including life science, physical science and computer science. Oelslager said the school district will "most likely be starting out" with one module per grade level in elementary schools.

At Karcher Middle School, subject choices are biomedical sciences, computer science and engineering. Oelslager said the school has already begun its training and is working to bring equipment into the school.

At Burlington High School, the subject options are also biomedical sciences, computer science and engineering. Oelslager said the high school also wants to use some money to purchase a computer numerical control machine.

©2022 The Journal Times, Racine, Wisc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.