Thanks to a $99,000 grant from the van Beuren Charitable Foundation (vBCF), the Copernicus STEAM Learning Lab (CSLL) has been established to assist Newport County K-8 teachers bridge the growing and accelerating technical divide. Funded to serve as a center for the integration of computer science and advanced educational technologies across Newport County, CSLL aims to help teachers cultivate the next generation of prepared students, poised to become tomorrow’s innovators.

CSLL provides private and public, in-school and out-of-school educators professional development in emergent areas. Partners include RI’s Office of Innovation’s CS4RI initiative, All Saints STEAM Academy, MIT’s Media Lab, the Air Force Association,, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. All are assisting in the interpretation of tech-tools, software, hardware, and global education research to guide today’s teachers and students to better navigate tomorrow’s ever-evolving demands.

Educational workshops, monthly meetups, student summer camps, and public events are scheduled. In an effort to meet the ongoing need for additional STEAM leadership and deepen awareness of coding and advanced technologies, CSLL uses educational platforms such as:; Creative Computing with Scratch; CyberPatriot; and Amateur Radio Aboard the International Space Station (ARISS) to demonstrate how hands-on applications can make math and science instruction more relevant and engaging for all abilities.

Inspired by Nicolaus Copernicus, whose heliocentric discoveries changed the world and revolutionized how the cosmos was envisioned, CSLL seeks to modernize teaching and learning by championing new education approaches that will catapult contemporary classroom practice into the 21st Century.

Program leader, Janice Kowalczyk explains the CSLL mission best: “It is our goal to help grade K-8 classroom teachers infuse computational thinking across a broad range of content areas. We do not see coding as an add-on to the curriculum, but as a general tool for creative thinking and creative expression in all subject areas. STEAM is a teaching platform that generates interest and excitement by demonstrating the interconnectedness of all learning.”

Mark your calendars for Scratch Day on May 6th. “Like” Copernicus STEAM Learning Lab on Facebook and learn more about upcoming programs and classes by registering at:

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Ryan Belmore has been the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp since 2012. He also currently works for Mountain News, where he serves as Senior Editor - North America for OnTheSnow. He previously worked for the New England Patriots and American Cancer Society. He currently serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).