Innovative Educational Program: 6th Grade Technology Education

Posted on July 3, 2014, in Academics

Mark Niezelski was one of the six recipients to receive the William E. and Mary S. Smith Middle School Innovative Education Program Grant in March. The James W. Parker Middle School teacher will use this grant to help maintain the sixth grade Lego NXT Robotics curriculum.

According to Niezelski, the grant money will be used to purchase one Lego Mindstorms NXT Base Kit. This kit includes 431 elements including the programmable NXT Brick; three interactive servo motors; ultrasonic, sound, light, and two touch sensors; a rechargeable DC battery; a DC charger; connecting cables; and full-color building instructions. The purchase of this set will enable students to build and program real-life robotic solutions, which will provide cross-curricular opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), allow for creativity in design and enable students to explore the world of engineering by building complex control systems.

“The money will not only help maintain the current 6th grade Technology Education Curriculum but also enhance it by creating more STEM options, enabling the students to become more career and college ready by exercising their higher order thinking skills (critical thinking),” Niezelski said. “Whatever it takes for each student to reach their positive potential.”

The grant will also allow the purchase of one additional NXT Intelligent Brick, which is the robot’s “brain!”

Niezelski teaches technology education to students in grades 5-8. The grant stems from former James W. Parker Middle School math teacher Bill Smith and his wife, Mary. These classroom grants provide middle school teachers with up to $500 for special projects/activities/enhancements. The remaining three projects will be shared over the next few weeks.

The General McLane Foundation was founded in 2005 as an organization exclusively for charitable educational purposes that will benefit the students of the General McLane School District. Each year, the Foundation hosts the Holiday Arts Fair and the Golf Outing – two major events that help fund scholarships to graduating seniors.

To learn more about the General McLane Foundation, visit