2017-09-14 / Around Town

Aquidneck Elementary Exhibits New Media Lab

By Christopher Allen


Forward Guerschon Yabusele of the Boston Celtics joined students in experiments at the Aquidneck Elementary School to unveil a new media lab. (Photo courtesy of Regan Communications Group) Forward Guerschon Yabusele of the Boston Celtics joined students in experiments at the Aquidneck Elementary School to unveil a new media lab. (Photo courtesy of Regan Communications Group) Dozens of students, teachers and school officials joined current and former Boston Celtics at Middletown’s Aquidneck Elementary School on Sept. 12 to unveil a new media lab, known as STEAM (Science, Technology, Art, Engineering and Math).

The technological upgrade is the result of the Energy Assist Conservation Contest initiated by the Celtics on social media, and sponsored by the multinational gas and electricity utility National Grid’s “Energy Assist” initiative.

Last spring, a third-grade class from the Aquidneck school submitted a video to the viral campaign, outlining the ways they conserve energy at home. The under-two-minute video, which included art stills and the third-graders explaining their conservation efforts, beat out thousands of K-8 participants across Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The award is given annually to one school from the Ocean State and one from the Bay State. This year, Abigail Adams Middle School in Weymouth received the Massachusetts prize.

In attendance to try out the new equipment, which included digital video cameras, a weather station and an interactive whiteboard, were the victorious Middletown students, now fourth-graders, who spent a half-hour familiarizing themselves with the various digital tools.

Representatives from the Celtics included retired all-star Dana Barros, recently drafted rookie forward Guerschon Yabusele, and team mascot “Lucky” the Leprechaun, all three of whom roamed the lab and joined students in their experiments, later sitting for a Q-and-A alongside National Grid Rhode Island President and COO Timothy Horan.

In his brief talk, Horan pointed to an evolving business model being adopted by National Grid, including renewable solar and wind power, in an effort to reduce energy consumption. “If people use less energy, it’s better for the environment,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Afterward, Horan said the Energy Assist program and other National Grid philanthropic efforts are handled through a separate charitable wing of the company. National Grid plans on continuing involvement in the two-year-old contest in coming years.

Aquidneck Elementary Principal Michelle Fonseca said she is excited about starting her students early in the study of science and technology. “It’s such an incredible gift to our school,” she said, adding that a newly hired STEAM librarian will assist students as they rotate through a lab session at least once each week. “A lot of these kids will someday have jobs that don’t exist yet.”

Fonseca pointed to emerging consensus on the importance of helping schoolchildren think imaginatively about the possibilities of art and technology. “This room will really help with creativity and innovation,” she said. “A big thanks to our hardworking students, who have given us something that we will have forever.”

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