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PG&E donation helps buy tablets for MUSD students
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An $18,500 contribution from PG&E will help Manteca Unified put high-tech computer tablets in the hands of some of its students.

The donation was made Jan. 12 and is part of a longstanding partnership between PG&E and Manteca Unified School District, which serves 23,000 students in Manteca, Stockton, Lathrop and the township of French Camp.

In all, $21,000 was given to Manteca Unified, the bulk of the funds earmarked for the computer tablets and the remaining $2,500 to help fund the district’s Planet Party Day event. The Planet Party day festivities, which PG&E has supported in the past, mixes fun and learning to teach sixth-graders about the environment.

“I’m very excited,” said Victoria Brunn, Manteca Unified’s coordinator of sustainability and energy education.

She said the district – depending on what tablets are purchased – hopes to buy enough for one or two classrooms.

The new technology will be used as part of the district’s education and the environment curriculum, she said, part of a larger state initiative to teach students the importance of environmental stewardship.

California’s landmark Education and the Environment Initiative is a K-12 curriculum designed to teach students about their relationship with the environment. It is considered a national model to help prepare students to become future scientists, economists and green-technology leaders.

Manteca Unified served as a pilot for the curriculum developed through the California Environmental Protection Agency and was the first district in the state to adopt the program in December 2010, Brunn said.

Since students will be able to use the computer tablets, much less printed materials will be needed, which makes sense considering the subject matter.

“We are teaching this environmental curriculum and spending thousands of dollars to print it,” she said. “We shouldn’t have to technically print anything at all with these [tablet] devices.”

Many of the maps and visual components of the environmental curriculum are provided by National Geographic, but much is lost when the district is forced to print out the material in black and white copies.

“With the tablet, we are hoping to bring that curriculum to life for students … You are talking three-dimensional learning versus two-dimensional learning,” she said.

Dylan George, a PG&E government relations representative who has worked closely with Manteca Unified, said the tablets will be a huge help to the district and further engage students in learning.

“We are excited to partner with an innovative school district like Manteca Unified to teach their students about the importance of environmental stewardship,” said George.

The tablets might be purchased before the end of the school year. However, after teacher training and preparation, they probably won’t be fully utilized in the classroom until next school year.