A small rural school in Washington County just 5 miles from the Canadian border is going high-tech next year, thanks to a $10,000 grant that will allow school officials to integrate virtual reality into lesson plans for studying history, biology, engineering and other subjects.

“The Danforth community is devoted to our children, and at East Grand School we are always looking to provide important opportunities for our students,” said Jennifer Gillman, a math teacher who beat out 83 other applicants to win the grant. The money will be used to buy virtual reality headsets, which retail for about $800 each, and set up a dedicated space for VR, a 3D printer and other hands-on technology.

“(The students) have the ambition and the ability, but they don’t always know what’s out there in the world for them,” Gillman said. There are about 150 students in the school, which spans pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

The grant is the fourth annual $10,000 technology award by Kepware, a Portland-based software development firm sold several years ago to PTC Inc., a Needham, Massachusetts-based technology company. The grants are intended to spur interest and experience with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and develop the state’s workforce.

“Technology is key to enhancing student learning,” said Tony Paine, chief technology officer of Industrial Automation at PTC. “Access to technology enables students to develop a strong foundation of technical skills and inspires them to explore their talents. The Kepware School Grant Program continues to supply students in our home state with tools to succeed in STEM disciplines and overcome the technology gap facing many Maine schools.”

Correction: This story was updated at 3:40 p.m. on July 11, 2017 to correct Kepware’s name.

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

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