NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 29: A student experances the oceanography station at Verizon Innovative Learning Event at P.S. 171 Patrick Henry School on October 29, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Verizon)
The students at PS 171 Patrick Henry Preparatory in East Harlem, New York, are a little more connected thanks to Verizon Wireless.
In a partnership with the nonprofit Digital Promise, Verizon provided tablets and two-year 4G LTE data plans toÂ sixth, seventh, and eighth graders at PS 171 as part of its Verizon Innovative Learning education initiative.
The devices were presented to the students at an event held Saturday which featured an array of STEM influencers, including Clarence Wooten, serial entrepreneur; Cynthia Erenas, winner of a national robotics competition; and Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer.
Saturdayâ€™s event marks the first time Verizonâ€™s education program was launched in New York. The program is designed to address several challenges with students from underrepresented communities and STEM.
For instance, a third of lower-income households with children donâ€™t have high-speed internet service at home, placing these kids at a learning disadvantage.
The Verizon Innovative Learning program’s goal is to provide middle-school kids access to technology, STEM, and leadership skills. Teachers are also given ongoing training on integrating technology into their class plans.
The program started two years ago and in the 2016â€“2017 school year is slated to reach 46 middle schools, nearly 27,000 students, and 2,100 teachers across the country. Since its launch, Verizon reports that:
– 67% of teachers believe their students were more engaged.
– 53% of teachers felt that interactions between students were more positive.
– 41% of students completed hands-on projects using technology on at least a weekly basis.
In addition to the tablets, PS 171 students will participate in aÂ number of technology experiences involving virtual reality, mathematics, and engineering.
The Verizon Innovative Learning program offers other opportunities including a mobile app development competition for middle- and high-schoolers; a summer immersion program to teach minority boys STEM skills, coding, robotics and more; and pairing students with local businesses to develop business solutions using the latest technology.