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Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh receives funding to launch West Virginia Maker Network Initiative

Contacts:  Bill Schlageter, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, 412-586-6023, bschlageter@pittsburghkids.org
Emily Schoen Pratt, Director of Communications, Education Alliance, 304-342-7849, emily@educationalliance.org


(August 27, 2015) -- Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh has received $100,000 from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and $100,000 from Chevron to support the creation of a new West Virginia Maker Network. Partnering with The
Education Alliance in West Virginia, the Children’s Museum will launch this initiative in August 2015 to provide professional development for educators and ongoing support in the creation of community-based makerspaces in these informal and formal educational sites in seven West Virginia counties:

1. Robert C. Byrd Institute, Huntington, WV (Cabell County)

2. Larry Joe Harless Community Center, Gilbert, WV (Mingo County)

3. Wildwood Middle School, Shenandoah Junction, WV (Jefferson County)

4. Heritage Farm Museum and Village, Huntington, WV (Wayne County)

5. South Middle School, Morgantown, WV (Monongalia County)

6. Fairmont Senior High School, Fairmont, WV (Marion County)

7. Washington Lands Elementary School, Moundsville, WV (Marshall County)

Maker Teams from each West Virginia site will lead their organization’s involvement in the project, working with MAKESHOP at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh to develop sustainable makerspaces and programs for their audiences. The Museum and The Education Alliance will host a West Virginia Network Convening Meeting to grow this pilot program in the winter.

“West Virginia has a rich heritage of being creative and of making” said Gayle Manchin, former West Virginia Board of Education President, “and I enjoyed helping support the launch of the maker movement in West Virginia.”  “I’m thrilled that now seven organizations across the state will be able to create their own makerspaces to support hands-on and project-based learning for more students.  I congratulate The Education Alliance on their efforts to expand this important wave of student creativity that will inspire innovation across the state” said West Virginia Board of Education President Mike Green.

Each West Virginia Site will participate in:

·         Week-long Maker Boot Camp facilitated by MAKESHOP at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, in September 2015

·         Kick-Off Consultation/Planning Meetings where all seven West Virginia sites will meet with Museum exhibit designers to design their makerspace

·         Facilitation, staffing, supply sourcing and programming techniques training

·         Bi-weekly Google Hangouts between partners throughout the project to provide feedback, guidance and provide an opportunity for sites to connect and create a sustainable network

This project builds on the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation’s longtime support of the Museum’s MAKESHOP and maker professional development efforts. “The Children’s Museum has been an incredible innovator and leader in the Maker Movement, recognized nationally” stated James V. Denova, Vice President of the Benedum Foundation. “The Education Alliance’s partnership will not only help disseminate the Children’s Museum’s best practices, but provide an anchor through which West Virginia can build its own community of practice around making.”

Chevron, a new partner in the Children’s Museum’s making initiative, is also providing an additional $200,000 to bring the Children’s Museum’s MAKESHOP outreach to 32 elementary schools in Fayette, Greene, Washington, and Westmoreland counties in Pennsylvania and Marshall County, West Virginia. Chevron and the Benedum Foundation are partners in the Appalachia Partnership Initiative, a social investment collaboration announced last fall, addressing STEM learning and workforce development needs in the region.

“Chevron is committed to the maker movement, nationally, as an opportunity to give students and adult learners hands-on experiences that build critical thinking and technical skills,” said Trip Oliver, manager, policy, government, and public affairs at Chevron. “We are pleased to partner with the Benedum Foundation to expand maker opportunities in the tri-state region to help prepare future workers for a variety of jobs by introducing them to technical tools, spaces, and skills.”

The Children’s Museum’s MAKESHOP team will facilitate, coordinate and evaluate this project, traveling throughout West Virginia. The Education Alliance will coordinate relationships with the seven sites and support the ongoing sustainability of the West Virginia Maker Network. Each participating site will receive technical assistance, equipment and supplies essential to the development of the spaces and programs.

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Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

Over the past four years, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh has emerged as a national leader at the forefront of education and research around making and learning through its MAKESHOP initiative. Developed to provide children with high-quality, interest-driven, connected learning opportunities, MAKESHOP opened in October 2011 in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) and the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out of School Environments (UPCLOSE). MAKESHOP is a permanent 1,800 square foot exhibit and makerspace dedicated to nurturing informal learning opportunities at the intersection of the digital technology and the physical media. Formal educators, museum professionals and learning researchers continually show great interest in MAKESHOP, recognizing its ability to deeply engage youth of all ages, build 21st century learning skills, support school curriculum, and encourage family learning.

About The Education Alliance

Founded in July 1983 as the first statewide public education fund in the nation, The Education Alliance is a private-sector initiative to help businesses understand the importance of financially and resourcefully supporting the state’s public schools and to give business a voice in public education that advances policies and practices to continually improve public school student achievement in West Virginia.