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Penguins host Future Goals training session for local teachers

by Adam Lindner / Pittsburgh Penguins

Before the Penguins' preseason contest versus the Detroit Red Wings on Sep. 25, teachers from various Pittsburgh-area school districts convened at PPG Paints Arena for a training session for the Future Goals Hockey Scholar program.

Hosted by the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, the event educated teachers about the Future Goals Hockey Scholar program - a web-based course that leverages hockey to teach foundational math and science concepts - developed by Everfi, the nation's leading critical skills education platform.

"Through the Future Goals Hockey Scholar program powered by Everfi, we are able to incorporate key STEM concepts that can help foster a passion for learning and a brighter future for our kids," Penguins Foundation president Dave Soltesz said. "That's what we're doing here tonight. Teachers who sign up for this free course are able to share with their students necessary components of STEM and how it's used in everyday life, such as in a game of hockey. We want to thank our educators for taking the time to come out tonight to learn about everything the Hockey Scholar program has to offer and ensuring that kids are the future."

With the school year just getting started, this is an important time of year for teachers to get familiarized with the program.

"We have a very strong partnership with the Penguins, but most of these teachers here have not used the program before," Everfi representative Sasha Altschuler said.

In all, roughly 80 area educators attended the seminar, equipping themselves with the knowledge of how to use a supplemental educational tool crafted for their students' gain.

Holly Hallman, a math teacher at Wendover Middle School in Westmoreland County, said that she's used the application many times previously in her classes to the delight of both herself and her students.

A huge Penguins fan herself, Hallman said her students love the system, which allows them to learn and have fun at the same time.

"They get really into it," Hallman said. "Even though they're doing math, they don't realize it because they're playing games at the same time."

An example of the program's interface comes in the form of painting the rink's lines and logos electronically.

"For the one we just did - the point, coordinate, X, Y - they melt the ice," Hallman said. "All you can see is the floor, and there's gridlines on the floor, and they have to paint all the lines. They have to do the blue lines, they have to paint the red line, they have to do the circle based on the circumference of the faceoff circles and they have to paint them. And if they paint them incorrectly, it tells them why it's incorrect."

Equipped with pre- and post-assessments, "the surveys in the program give teachers the opportunity to see students' knowledge gain," Altschuler said.

Olivia Twiddy, a customer success manager with Everfi, supplied other examples of how the application can be used.

"To teach about angles, they have passes off the boards, so they make that 45-degree angle," Twiddy said. "With making the ice, we talk about freezing molecules and what it means to be at a freezing temperature, and how they maintain the arena - the technology and equipment and how that's evolved over time. So we're really covering all bases of S.T.E.M., and touching on different career opportunities as well."

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