SJCS Awarded Grant for New Gender-Balanced Robotics Program

SJCS Awarded Grant for New Gender-Balanced Robotics Program

June 8, 2017

BRUNSWICK---St. John’s Catholic School, located on 37 Pleasant Street in Brunswick, has been named the winner of a Gizmo Garden Fund grant. The school will receive $7,250 to start a robotics program at the school. The Gizmo Garden Fund provides financial grants that empower teachers, librarians, and after school leaders to carry out gender-balanced projects in computer coding, electronics, and robotics for Maine students in Grades 6-12.

“I plan on beginning with the Sensation Jollification Collaboration Spiritualization (SJCS2), a non-competitive, creative, and weekly program that focuses on building fun things while learning about C++ coding for Grades 6 – 8,” said Jennifer Nelson, the new technology coordinator at St. John’s and All Saints Parish who formerly served as a software engineer for a U.S. Navy subcontractor. “The SJCS is the same acronym as the school.”

The grant will assist the school in purchasing resources like Adafruit kits and Arduino-controlled Parallax robots.

Six boys and six girls have already showed interest to participate in the program, starting with the learning of electronic assembly skills and progressing all the way to creating robotic Pope mobiles to demonstrate for their parents at the end of the year.

“St. John’s is blessed with a lot of curious and avid students that are interested in robotics, coding, and engineering skills,” said Nelson. “It’s a perfect fit for the Gizmo Garden mission.”

The program will also include field trips and visiting speakers who will share their insight into different aspects of engineering and technology, but the gender-based component of the program is one that is particularly important for Nelson and the school.

“I believe in giving girls the opportunity to build confidence in technology and themselves,” said Nelson. “By working together while they are young, it can instill a cooperative environment between males and females that lasts a lifetime. St. John’s is always focused on finding new ways to prepare our students for the future.”

St. John’s is one of eight Maine institutions to receive a Gizmo Garden Fund grant this year. For more information, contact Dave Guthro, Communications Director for the Diocese of Portland, at (207) 321-7810 or