COAL TOWNSHIP — Through the efforts, commitment and generosity of Bose Corp. and its Shamokin native employee Bill Edmondson, the STEAM program at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School continues to grow with new equipment donated by the nationwide audio equipment company.
“Bringing a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) program to my alma mater was something that has been on my mind for years,” said Edmondson, a 1978 Lourdes graduate who serves as lead software architect for the consumer electronics division of Bose Corp. “Since software and product development are my strengths, it seems natural that the activities would include some programming projects.”
Among the equipment purchased by Bose for the STEAM program are 30 Chromebook laptops, three Alexa-enabled Bose speakers, headphones, 10 third-generation Dots and two Node IOT starter kits.
Bose plans to provide additional equipment to Lourdes throughout the year.
“The idea is to expose students into technology in general and a sampling of current tech topics such as programming, cloud development, voice assistance and control, and an internet of things,” said Edmondson, who lives in Bedford, New Hampshire, and works at Bose in Framingham, Massachusetts. “We also hope to expose students to everything involved in product development, including the skills involved in delivering a product. I’ve learned that it’s not all about technology.”
Edmondson said STEAM is a creative and fun environment in which students learn new skills.
“It’s important to teach students how to create their own skills,” he said. “BOSEbuild kits expose students to audio concepts by building a Bluetooth speaker and headphones.”
He said if one student is influenced to pursue a career in engineering, his time and the company’s generosity in providing equipment are well spent.
Edmondson, who recently led a team to deliver Bose’s line of Alexa-enabled home speakers to Lourdes, earned a degree in electrical engineering from Penn State University and began working at Bose in 2012.
The Shamokin native began putting together a short description for ways to assist the STEAM program at Lourdes last summer after Bose encouraged employees to develop ideas to provide funding for a wide range of projects.
“Bose is always looking to fund projects to help communities, particularly at schools,” Edmondson said. “The corporation has made significant donations, and I am very grateful it gave me the opportunity to help my alma mater. Hopefully, I’ll be able to help other schools in my hometown area in the future.”
About 30 students in grades four to 12 participate in the STEAM program at Lourdes. The next program will be conducted from Feb. 19 through the end of the school year on Tuesdays and Thursdays for two hours after school.
Additional STEAM programs are held throughout the school year and occasionally in the summer.
The program was initially called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) upon being established at Lourdes about a decade ago. The name was changed to STEAM about four or five years ago when arts was added.
The overall goal of the program is to engage students in authentic computer tasks.
The goals of the Alexa-enabled Bose project are to create an Alexa skill to link to a Lourdes information database and build a smarter Alexa skill using a programming language called Python.
In the project funded by Bose, students will work in teams of three or four and collaborate with teachers, and staff from Bose.
Edmondson, a son of Marian Edmondson, of Shamokin, and the late William “Whitey” Edmondson, commended Lourdes teachers Anne Czeponis (seventh and eighth grades), JoAnn Picarelli (fifth and sixth grades), Shane Corrigan (high school science) and former Lourdes high school teacher Amy Feese for their dedicated work with the STEAM program.
“I give them a lot of credit for developing an after-school STEAM program,” he said. “They have volunteered a lot of their own time to make the program successful.”
Picarelli said, “All of us want to thank Bill and Bose Corp. for their generous support of the STEAM program at Lourdes. We’re excited to begin collaborating with Bose employees who make the equipment that we will be using so we can learn more about it. We plan on doing video conferencing with Bose employees in the near future.”
Corinne Feese, a sixth-grade student at Lourdes, said, “I enjoy STEAM because I like learning hands-on. All the teachers are very nice and make STEAM fun. The program is very challenging at times.”
Feese said her favorite projects are the ones involving creativity and challenges.
“I like learning about circuits with my friends,” said sixth-grader Olivia Kopitsky.
“I enjoy the variety of projects we do like circuits, coding and Google animations,” said sixth-grader Ava Carnuccio. “The possibilities are endless with Google Scratch (an online program).”