Learning center

Johnstown’s new IU8 learning center features STEM exhibits

(TNS) – Zebariah Cramer enthusiastically played with magnetic shapes Thursday as he toured the new Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8 learning center in downtown Johnstown.

The educational space at 420 Main St. was created for students at cyber schools such as Cramer, 6.

“When we saw the flyer he said he wanted to come down,” said Jessica Cramer, his mother, who called the new center “really nice.”

The pair were two of many people who attended IU8’s inauguration and information session on Thursday. Parents, students, community members and stakeholders were invited to explore the facility, formerly the Bulldog Arena, located across from the downtown office of Pennsylvania Highlands Community College.

“It’s really fun,” Zebariah Cramer said as she put magnets together before tearing them apart again. He was eager to explore all the center offers.

In addition to magnetic shapes and other STEM-related displays set up around the space, which occupies more than 10,000 square feet of land, there were tables laden with informational materials on various educational programs, an exhibit of The Esport Company and demonstrations from the First Lego and First Tech Challenge student groups.

“We’re starting to open doors for cyber kids, but we also want to partner with school districts,” said Aiko Malynda Maurer, IU8’s director of innovation, incubation and development and CEO of Central Pennsylvania. Digital Learning from IU8. Foundation.

It was Maurer’s idea to found the center in downtown Johnstown. She said she knows how important it is for online-schooled students to have in-person interaction, and by exploring this idea, she wanted to create a safe space and build it in the developing area of ​​the city. .

“My ultimate vision is for kids to be invested in our community so they stay here,” Maurer said.

Thomas Butler, Executive Director of IU8, shares his vision for the future.

“That’s what excites us,” he said, “to be here and to be part of what Johnstown represents downtown.”

Butler also spoke about future possibilities for the space, from expanding enrichment activities to hosting educational events.

“I can’t wait for the community to get involved and for there to be more events,” said mother Jamie Saylor, who attended the event with her 5-year-old daughter Lila, adding that they “just went out for activities and to socialize.”

Annaliese Niebauer, a 17-year-old junior from Central Cambria High School in Ebensburg, was also happy to be there. She and her teammates from the school’s First Tech Challenge team, the Digital Devils, showed off their skills in the STEM club.

“It’s great to have this,” she said of the new space.

The learning center is open Wednesdays and Thursdays, but Maurer noted that as attendance increases, the location could be open more days a week.

©2022 The Tribune-Democrat (Johnstown, PA). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.