GREENVILLE, N.C. – The Pitt County Educational Foundation has received funding from Optimum to create the Lakeforest Elementary School Innovation Lab to help students elevate their engagement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities.

With an enrollment of 824 students, Lakeforest is situated in close proximity to one of the nation’s top medical facilities as well as East Carolina University, Pitt Community College and local industries which helps the school promote meaningful connections. While teachers are ready to take those STEM and career opportunities to the next level, along with incorporating their annual career day into a real-world setting, a lack of materials and equipment presented a significant obstacle for future growth.

After being made aware of Lakeforest’s challenge through its STEM involvement with afterschool activities and Science Olympiad, Optimum wanted to support the school’s initiative by donating $12,500 to make the creation of the Lakeforest Innovation Lab possible.

“Optimum is committed to making a positive impact in the communities where we live, work and serve,” Optimum Market Engagement Manager Lisa Stokes said. “Through our partnership with the Pitt County Educational Foundation and Pitt County Schools, the brand-new Lakeforest Innovation Lab will provide students with technology, tools and STEM learning opportunities.

“These tools will encourage learning through hands-on experiences that require students to think critically, collaborate, communicate and innovate.”

The equipping process began with a team of seven students who brainstormed ideas for how to make the Innovation Lab an exciting and engaging space. Their ideas translated into purchases of whiteboard tables and chairs, K’nex kits, digital scales, engineering supplies, Zoob kits, snowflake tiles, Bee-Bots, Picasso Tiles, KEVA planks, littleBits, Magna-Tiles and Snap Circuits.

In addition, Optimum graciously donated 12 iPads for students to utilize while participating in Innovation Lab assignments.

“STEM provides students with an opportunity to merge content, creativity and critical thinking to solve problems and answer questions,” PCS STEM Coordinator Dr. Jennifer Stalls said. “In Pitt County Schools, we view the STEM acronym as strategies that engage minds. These supplies and materials ensure high engagement and real-life application.

“We are grateful for the opportunities now afforded to the students at Lakeforest Elementary because of Optimum’s generosity.”