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South Fayette Middle School a high-tech hub

| Tuesday, May 3, 2016, 2:21 p.m.
Randy Jarosz | For the Tribune-Review
Third-grader Juliana Uhrlen, 9, controls a robot with a joystick on Thursday, April 28, 2016, at the grand opening of the Digital Learning Studio at South Fayette Middle School.
Randy Jarosz | For the Tribune-Review
STEAM coordinator Frank Kruth talks about a robot with eighth-grader Jack Passyn, 13, of South Fayette on Thursday, April 28, 2016, at the grand opening of the Digital Learning Studio at South Fayette Middle School.
Randy Jarosz | For the Tribune-Review
From left, fourth-grader Rachel Radinovic, 10, seventh-grader Ariel Radinovic, 12, school board member Alexander Czaplicki, South Fayette Superintendent Bille Rondinelli and eighth-grader Rachel McAdams, 13, look at 'Bills and Coins' software on a Sprout workspace Thursday, April 28, 2016, at the grand opening of the Digital Learning Studio at the middle school.

South Fayette Township School District has a reputation as a leader in innovative education, and tech giants Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft have taken notice.

As part of HP and Microsoft's Reinvent the Classroom initiative, the world's first Digital Learning Studio is at South Fayette Middle School. A ceremony was held April 28 during the district's Celebration of Excellence in Learning to showcase the studio, which is equipped with Sprout by HP, a Dremel 3D printer, HP x360 310 EE personal computers, an HP Pagewide printer and software and educator guides.

“They said, ‘We wouldn't put the Learning Studio that has all this equipment anywhere else because we know they are capable about launching it and giving us feedback about how to do this better because it's going international,' ” Assistant Superintendent Michael Loughead said.

Last fall, representatives from Digital Promise, HP and Microsoft spent a day at the school.

“The tools and resources available in our new Digital Learning Studio fall in line with South Fayette's STEAM Studio Model for Innovation,” Superintendent Bille Rondinelli said.

STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.

South Fayette Middle is the first of 65 schools around the world to serve as a Learning Studio research hub. The second site will be in the San Francisco area. Middle school Principal Dave Deramo said he knows that HP and Microsoft are establishing contacts with schools in New Zealand, Denmark and Australia.

The Learning Studios blend educational technologies and instructional methods to create adaptive, immersive learning environments that energize teachers and students, said Gus Schmedlen, vice president of education, printing and personal systems at HP.

Digital Promise Global, a nonprofit working to promote innovation in education, will direct the project and support teachers and students involved in it.

Other South Fayette staff integral to the effort include middle school Assistant Principal Kristin Deichler and project coordinators Frank Kruth, Lynette Lortz and AJ Mannarino.

Jim Spezialetti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5805 or jspezialetti@tribweb.com.

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