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MPS students at Morse Middle School have a new Verizon Innovative Learning Lab

Morse students in Verizon labStudents at Morse Middle School are getting hands-on — and headsets-on — experience in emerging technologies, thanks to the MPS school’s spacious new Verizon Innovative Learning Lab. The lab is a gift from wireless carrier Verizon, in partnership with Heart of America and the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute at Arizona State University.  

Heart of America is a Washington, D.C., nonprofit organization that updates classrooms; the Edson Institute, which provides resources and programs to student and community entrepreneurs, supplies a project-based curriculum and training for the teachers. Verizon works with them to provide free technology and free internet access to learn about cutting-edge tech. 

Morse students and teachers have access to virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D printing, and artificial intelligence, or AI. 

“We are excited to continue our partnership with Milwaukee Public Schools to provide students with the necessary digital tools to enhance their educational and workforce opportunities,” said Steven Shaw, Verizon’s community engagement director.  

Morse is the third MPS school to receive a Verizon Innovative Learning Lab, following H.W. Longfellow School and Oliver Wendell Holmes School.  

“Technology is everywhere, in almost everything you do,” Shaw noted at a demonstration of the lab’s equipment on January 17. The lab, he said, will help ensure that students have the skills needed for the jobs of the future. 

Marva Herndon, the representative from District 1 on the Milwaukee Board of School Directors and the school board’s president, observed the demonstration with interest. Now retired from a 25-year career in programming and building computers, Herndon noted that few Black women worked in the field at the time that she did. 

“You have an opportunity that many of us did not have,” she told students from teacher Shanna Brown’s 8th-grade science class in the lab. “This is an opportunity you definitely should not pass up. It opens doors for you at all sorts of companies.” 

Dr. Tanzanique Carrington, the principal at Morse, noted that a Verizon study found the use of such labs increased student involvement in STEM careers by nearly 60%, and nearly 65% of students who have used such labs feel more proficient in learning tech skills. 

“We are excited at Morse because we believe the Verizon Innovative Learning Lab empowers us to provide technology, education, and opportunities to our students. We also use this opportunity to provide ongoing training for our teachers,” Carrington said. 

Thus far, 173 8th-graders have used the Verizon lab. All students at the school will have access to it. 

Jennifer Mims-Howell, the chief academic officer at Milwaukee Public Schools, told the students in the classroom, “Our hope is for you to take advantage of every offering this lab has to give you.” 

Morse Middle School for the Talented and Gifted is at 6700 N. 80th St., Milwaukee. Its focus is on STEM — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — and on college preparation. Other science programming includes Project Lead The Way and its hands-on coursework. 

© Milwaukee Public Schools 2023
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