DOT Foods Donates Drones to Area Schools To Promote STEAM Education

By Benjamin Cox on June 3, 2024 at 11:50am

Donna Veile (center), superintendent of the Payson school district, and Danielle Mason (right), a teacher in the Griggsville-Perry district, watch as Dawn Lepper (left), a Payson school district science teacher, flies a drone donated by Dot Foods. (Photo Provided)

Thirteen school districts across West Central Illinois have received drones thanks to a donation from DOT Foods.

The donation is a part of Dot’s focus on STEAM initiative, which aims to provide area school districts with the tools and education necessary to establish science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics programs.

Dot employees, along with representatives from the Learning Technology Center of Illinois, demonstrated to educators how drones can enhance the learning experience for students at a recent demonstration at Dot’s auditorium in Mt. Sterling.

Dot launched its Focus on STEAM program in May 2023 with the LTC, a statewide program that supports all public K-12 districts, schools, and educators through technology initiatives, services and professional learning opportunities. Dot developed this program to provide those essentials for schools to build their own STEAM programs, including an initial investment of approximately $50,000 in grants as the program launched in May 2023, with an additional $100,000 in grants for the 2023-24 school year alone.

Along with donating 13 drones to the 13 west-central Illinois school districts, Dot also donated LEGO educational kits, 3D printers, robots, and micro:bits to each participating district. The school districts also could apply for additional drones, 3D printers, robots and/or micro:bits – programmable devices that allow students to get hands-on with coding and digital creation.

District participating in the program include Brown County Middle School, St. Mary’s School in Mt. Sterling, Pikeland District #10, Beardstown High School, Griggsville-Perry School District, Meredosia-Chambersburg High School, and Franklin among others.

The demand for STEAM-related occupations is expected to grow two times faster than the total for all other occupations by 2031.