Massena Boys and Girls Club gets $40,000 for kids' STEM programming
Thursday, August 24, 2017 - 5:29 pm

From left, Arconic plant manager Steve Rombough, BGCM Chief Professional Officer Debra Donatto, and David Polarolo, Arconic forgings and extrusions production and maintenance superintendent.

MASSENA -- The Massena Boys and Girls Club received $40,000 for new programing to introduce students to STEM activities and career options while they are at the club.

Fun competitions and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) activities will “encourage students to use their problem-solving skills and creativity, while developing STEM learning,” according to a news release from the club.

The money will buy gaming computers, a high-definition projector and gaming systems, which will enable the kids to partake in game-based competitions.

Coding workshops and activities using apps on iPads will give kids access to newer technologies.

The funds will also provide for engineering kits like K’Nex Education, Lego Creator and robotics kits which will help kids develop engineering skills, as well as other technology to enhance STEM learning in youth in grades three through 12.

Industry specialists and college professors from the local universities will be invited to offer workshops at the clubhouse. Students will also go on campus tours and to do on-site activities with college students. Additionally, field trips to high tech manufacturing businesses will introduce students to new career options.

“The goal of the program is to inspire young people to develop a better understanding of STEM, empower them to reach their highest potential and, hopefully, inspire them to pursue STEM careers,” Debra Donatto, the club’s chief professional officer, said in a prepared statement. “Many of our students do not continue with the higher-level math and science courses, making them less qualified, and less likely to enter the competitive high-tech majors and careers.”

BGCM staff will reach out to local math and science teachers, building a team environment with schools. Club staff will provide assistance with daily work requirements, and help students build good study habits.

“The program's annual goal is to increase academic scores in math/science by the end of the school year; and help at-risk youth to build good study habits,” according to a news release from the club.

“This will help them to be better equipped for the higher-level math and science courses as they advance academically,” Donatto said in the statement.

The grant came from the Arconic Foundation.