Milwaukee STEAM students Code the Hoan

SHARP Literacy announced that it has been awarded a $218,000 grant from Governor Tony Evers’ statewide “Badger Bounceback Beyond the Classroom Grant Program.” In partnership with Light the Hoan and Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), SHARP will use the funds to inspire Milwaukee children through a new addition to its STEAM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) programming with a uniquely Milwaukee focus.   

SHARP will expand its Design Through Code (DTC) curriculum with “Beyond the Classroom – Code the Hoan: STEAM Scholars.” Through the program, middle school students will tap into their creativity and problem-solving skills and learn about the technology behind the Hoan Bridge’s lighting system. Using LED Lights and Virtual Reality software, the students will learn the principles of coding and critical thinking throughout the innovative program.  

“We know that learning the fundamentals of coding will impact a student’s confidence in reading, math and science and will be critically important to their overall success as a student,” said SHARP President and CEO Lynda Kohler. “We share this vision with others in the community, and it’s our hope that by combining forces, we can make an exponential impact in Milwaukee-area schools.” 

To launch SHARP’s Code the Hoan: STEAM Scholars Program, the organization will partner with Light the Hoan and MSOE. The STEAM Scholars Program represents the first in a suite of educational programs – called Code the Hoan – that will be developed utilizing the technology behind the lights on the Hoan Bridge as a teaching and learning tool. Code the Hoan receives additional support from Northwestern Mutual, Johnson Controls International, and Direct Supply. “When we set out to light the Hoan, we wanted it to be about more than lights on a bridge. Code the Hoan and the STEAM Scholars Program is an important step in turning a lit bridge into a community asset,” said Michael Hostad, co-founder of Light the Hoan, along with business partner Ian Abston.  

“Through projects like this, MSOE students are transformed into community builders and leaders. They are helping inspire the next generation of STEM students and professionals,” said DeAnna Leitzke, associate VP of academic excellence. “Project-based experiential learning is at the core of the MSOE experience and the CREATE Institute supports campus to ensure projects like this help students develop the skillset and mindset they need to solve the complex challenges of today and tomorrow.” 

Other partners in the project include Milky Way Tech Hub, Foresight Studios and Connect Business Consulting who were instrumental in the implementation of the STEAM Scholars Program.  

“Technology holds promise for the next generation; however, for many students in our community, this opportunity is not top-of-mind or accessible without SHARP’s DTC program,” said Kohler. “We are beyond thrilled to be able to join forces with Light the Hoan and MSOE to empower today’s students with the digital literacy skills that will serve as the foundation for future success.”  

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