South Orangetown Central School District

Tappan Zee High School Computer Science/Makerspace Teacher Karen Connell and South Orangetown Middle School Technology Teacher Lou Chugranis were awarded Orange & Rockland STEM Classroom Grants at a reception this evening at the utility’s Spring Valley office.

O&R awarded a $987 grant for the Drone Voyager project at the high school, through which Ms. Connell plans to teach students the programming language Python and how to use sensor data analysis, collaborative programming and decision-making. “The drone industry has undergone massive growth and is on course to continue growing, which has led to increased opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship in drone technology” she explained. “This project aims to reach and engage a broader sector of students in an introductory computer science course with a rich, meaningful experience. By programming a more complex system that includes software, hardware and data analysis, our students will develop and apply the creative and critical thinking needed to solve real world problems, rather than simply learning code structure and syntax through abstract exercises.”

Mr. Chugranis was awarded $992 to construct an off-grid, micro greenhouse in the SOMS Courtyard to allow students to extend their gardening project year-round. By building the 32 square-foot greenhouse, students will learn about sustainable technologies, electricity and photovoltaics, energy conservation, in addition to their ongoing study of agriculture and food production. “I hope to inspire our students and our community to incorporate photovoltaics and sustainable technologies in their current and future residences and in our community,” said Mr. Chugranis.

O&R has awarded classroom grants to SOCSD teachers since the program began five years ago. In 2018, William O. Schaefer Elementary School Grade 1 Teacher Carol Kuhn received a grant for her “Build a Better Maze” engineering project. The utility company is also a major sponsor of Tappan Zee High School’s FIRST Robotics Competition team, SO BOTZ.

“We want to send a message that we’re your partners in STEM,” remarked O&R President and CEO Bob Sanchez. “Your students are our future workforce…Technology is constantly changing and getting smarter. It happens because of the efforts you put into making science exciting for kids.”

Congratulations to Ms. Connell and Mr Chugranis!

Teachers Lou Chugranis and Karen Connell holding certificates reading "EXCELLENCE" on stage