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Greenon schools to use large grant for high-tech STEM equipment

Greenon Junior High School students Riley Hrovatic, Christopher Kahlert and Jordan Gregory work on a project during an 8th-grade STEM class on Friday. HASAN KARIM/ STAFF
Greenon Junior High School students Riley Hrovatic, Christopher Kahlert and Jordan Gregory work on a project during an 8th-grade STEM class on Friday. HASAN KARIM/ STAFF

The Greenon school district has received a $262,000 donation and will use the funds to purchase high-tech equipment to advance its science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs.

School district officials said the donation came from the Marathon Petroleum Foundation, Inc., a philanthropic affiliate of Speedway LLC, which is headquartered in the school district.

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“For the last decade, Greenon has worked to build a top-notch STEM education program that will flourish with this support,” Superintendent Brad Silvus said in a statement. ”We look forward to seeing what our talented teachers and students can do with this investment in the future of Greenon Schools.”

Teacher Tom Jenkins, who leads Greenon’s STEM program with colleague Jim Shaner, said educators are grateful for Speedway’s community involvement. Business technology and digital photography courses taught by Teresa Walton are among the many classes that will benefit from the donation.

Greenon plans to purchase drone and robotics equipment, professional photo editing and graphic design software, and state-of-the-art computers, cameras, and video equipment, district officials said.

Jenkins, who teaches 8th-grade science and STEM at Greenon Junior/Senior High School, said the donation is going to have a huge impact on his curriculum and allow the district to expand its STEM offerings to students, especially at the 8th-grade level.

He added that new technology purchased by the district will allow his students to use equipment such as robotic and drone kits that are already used at the high school level.

Up to this point, there have been a limited amount of those kits at the district’s disposal. Jenkins said the added funding will also allow him to incorporate more coding as well as digital design into his STEM classes.

"Our main purpose for 8th grade STEM is just to teach them the engineering and design process. Regardless if they become engineers or not, we all use that process in our lives," Jenkins said, noting that all 8th graders in the district are required to take a semester of STEM.

Greenon is a 1,600-student public school district in Clark County, just northeast of Fairborn. The district is currently building a new K-12 campus, located in Enon, anticipated to open in 2021.

Speedway President Tim Griffith presented the donation to the Greenon school board at its Dec. 19 meeting.

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District spokeswoman Megan Anthony said Greenon is one of only two Ohio high schools selected for the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam through the elite Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Teacher-student teams receive grants to invent technological solutions to real-world problems.

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Jenkins’ Greenon team is working on an invention that would prevent man-made debris from entering waterways. Anthony said Greenon students will travel to Washington D.C. this summer to present their project at the Smithsonian.