Lab’s cutting-edge technology to foster digital inclusion for students
October 7, 2021 – Students and teachers at Olmsted Academy North will get hands-on experience with next-generation technology at the school’s new Verizon Innovative Learning Lab. The lab will feature augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) equipment, 3D printers, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), giving students fun, experiential learning opportunities.
“Verizon has been an invaluable partner for JCPS as we work to address the Digital Divide in our community” said Dr. Marty Pollio, JCPS superintendent. “This lab is an open space of investigation, exploration, and endless possibilities for our students.”
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Olmsted Academy North is the first Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) building to open a lab as part of the Verizon Innovative Learning program, Verizon’s nationwide education initiative. The program is a key part of Citizen Verizon, the company’s responsible business plan for economic, environmental and social advancement. Verizon, working with its nonprofit partners, is providing free technology, access and innovative learning tools to under-resourced schools across America, including 9,142 cellular iPads, 2,249 hotspots, and 11,391 Verizon cellular data plans to 24 JCPS schools since 2018.
“I believe that all students should have access to technology and a quality STEAM education,” said Olmsted Academy North principal Tonkeyta Rodgers. “The Verizon Innovative Learning Lab turns that belief into action. Through this partnership our young men are provided next-generation technology, education, and opportunities to help move the world forward.”
Tom Wolken, the school’s technology coach, agreed. “In the learning lab students get hands-on experiences with world-class technology that brings possibilities to life in ways they might not have imagined before,” he said.
Verizon’s partners, Heart of America and J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute at Arizona State University, helped design Olmsted Academy North’s state-of-the-art space for the lab and will train teachers on using the emerging technology as part of the curriculum, respectively.
Eighth-grader Ritchie Evans said the technology has already been beneficial to him. “This lab has helped me learn more about coding and understanding algorithms,” he said.
Since 2012, the Verizon Innovative Learning program has provided more than $850 million in market value to support STEM education nationwide, helping students learn by infusing tech into curriculum.