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Connections and solutions bringing hands-on coding and robotics to Nebraska students

Published December 1, 2022
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When the state of Nebraska needed robust, hands-on preK-12 coding and robotics solutions for their students, they turned to Pitsco Education. And Pitsco delivered in a big way!

Nebraska’s Educational Service Unit Coordinating Council (ESUCC), which was put in place in 2008 to coordinate the activities of the 17 educational service units (ESUs) across the state, works closely with the ESUs, the school districts, and the Nebraska Department of Education to ensure top-notch education for students and support for teachers.

In August 2022, ESUCC became aware of $850,000 in Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds that needed to be relegated by September 2022. Thanks to a relationship with Pitsco, ESUCC Purchasing Director Craig Peterson knew exactly who Nebraska needed to work with to utilize these funds.

THE RELATIONSHIP

In January of 2022, Pitsco Education Advisor Preston Frazier took on Nebraska as part of his territory. He made a conscious effort to reach out to his contacts and begin building relationships, asking about their needs, any conferences he could attend, and so forth. Through these relationships, he learned about an educational technology conference being held in Lincoln, Nebraska, in July. Frazier attended this conference, displaying various coding and robotics solutions Pitsco offers. Peterson, to whom Frazier had previously reached out, was also at that conference, and they were able to connect on a more personal level.

When Peterson learned of the opportunity to use the GEER funds for Nebraska schools, he immediately reached out to Frazier to get the ball rolling.

THE OPPORTUNITY

Peterson put Frazier in touch with Scott Isaacson, the technology director for ESUCC, who would be spearheading this opportunity. Isaacson knew that the Nebraska governor’s office had a state-wide initiative to implement coding and robotics solutions into all 354 public and private school districts throughout the state. After meeting with Frazier, he knew that Pitsco had what they needed.

“The relationship [with Pitsco] ahead of time was important,” said Isaacson. “There’s a level of trust that’s there.” Additionally, ESUCC looked at Pitsco’s solutions, and, according to Isaacson, “Pitsco had really everything that we were looking for. . . . So, it was a real easy choice to make, I would say.”

Isaacson also noted that Pitsco’s curriculum, materials, and support for teachers also set Pitsco apart from other education service providers. “There are . . . online courses teachers can take, curriculum guides, and a real thorough set of materials to go with [the solutions], beyond just the basics of the kit itself. That was important to a lot of people.”

THE SOLUTION

After the decision was made to use Pitsco coding and robotics solutions, ESUCC and a Pitsco team that included almost every department got to work creating a Pitsco coding and robotics mini catalog filled with preK-12 solutions for schools to choose from. From Bee-Bot®, Blue-Bot®, KUBO, and Code Cube™ kits for early learners to TETRIX®, Arduino, and drone solutions for middle school and high school students, the catalog included something for every grade level, every learner. In just a few weeks, the catalog was sent to schools – and the response was immediate.

“We had an overwhelming response,” said Isaacson. The number of requests was close to 400, with the total amount topping $4 million. Although ESUCC discovered they actually had closer to $1.5 million to work with, the requests still had to be whittled down to fit the budget. It took ESUCC staff three days to wade through all the requests and apply a formula to come up with a dollar amount available to each school and compare that to their requests.

THE EXCITEMENT

With the hard work done, the fun part began. ESUCC worked with Frazier and Pitsco to get orders in, and coding and robotics solutions have begun shipping to Nebraska schools.

“I’m anxious to find some places to go and visit and see how [these solutions] are being put into use,” said Isaacson. “I’m impressed with how [Pitsco does] business and the thoroughness. . . . I think you’re doing a good job, and you take good care of your customers. So, thank you for that. Thank you for being there when we needed you on short notice.”

Frazier also is eager to see Pitsco solutions in the hands of Nebraska teachers and students. “I’m excited for all these schools to receive these items,” he said. “I’m looking forward to going out to Nebraska a little bit more this year, when all of this stuff is delivered, to see everyone having fun with it. That’s what I’m most looking forward to.”

“Pitsco always thinks about the student AND the teacher. Always right there ready to answer any questions, no matter how small they may seem. Very friendly and helpful.”

– Jackie Derr, STEM lab teacher, Perrysburg Junior High School, Perrysburg, Ohio

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