The Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation wants to put robots in every elementary school to help teach students aspects of math and science through technology.

This idea is the foundation's annual Fund-A-Need project. Foundation supporters will be asked to pledge money at this year's Gahanna Gala fundraiser toward the purchase of Sphero units, app-controlled robotic orbs.

"Spheros are an innovative way to teach students coding through creativity in the classroom," said Sharon Tomko, Gahanna schools community relations and outreach coordinator. "Our goal is to put Spheros in every elementary school building in the district."

To watch the robots in action, visit www.sphero.com/sphero.

During the past 14 years, the education foundation has partnered with the school district and the community to promote excellence in education, Tomko said.

Over the years, the foundation has purchased Chromebooks, Smart Boards, tablet computers and laptops; promoted the science, technology, engineering and math program; supported the elementary school reading initiative; and funded many special projects and programs, including the Experience the Arts Program, Goshen Lane Summer Drama Camp and the YMCA after-school program for middle school.

To date, Tomko said, the foundation has funded more than $1.4 million in grants, Fund-A-Need initiatives, donor-designated programs and scholarships.

The foundation also administers the Harvey Mast Care for Kids fund that assists students with personal needs.

Gahanna Gala

During the 2018 Gahanna Gala -- A Night with Soul Kitch'n -- guests can dance to the music of a local band on Feb. 24.

The foundation will host the event at a new location, the L Brands corporate headquarters, 3 Limited Parkway in Columbus (DC3 Building), beginning at 6:30 p.m.

"For the first time, live entertainment will be a part of the gala," Tomko said.

Rob Matney of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Professional Realty is sponsoring the band's performance.

"We are really looking forward to playing for the Gahanna Gala and actually didn't realize they haven't had live entertainment before," said Victoria Bordner, who fronts the band. "That makes it even more special for us."

She and her husband, Tom Bordner, founded the group in 1998.

Her husband is the drummer and sound engineer. Jeff Crisafulli plays bass. Mark Jackson on guitar and Kevin Sweeney on keyboards round out the five-member core band.

For the gala, Matt Adams will join them on tenor saxophone.

"We play a mix of high-energy danceable favorites from Sly and the Family Stone to Earth, Wind & Fire to Bruno Mars, and hope they enjoy,"she said.

The Bordners have lived in Gahanna for more than 25 years. They're the parents of a Gahanna Lincoln High School senior and a Gahanna Middle School West eighth-grader.

"So we're especially excited about the opportunity to help the Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation continue the great work they do," she said.

Foundation at work

Gahanna educator Dave Merrick said the foundation has been wonderful in supporting STEM initiatives at the middle school level.

"GJEF has provided two additional 3D printers at an estimated $5,000, plus the filament to supplement the Project Lead the Way and regular courses currently taught in middle school," he said.

Merrick said eighth-grade science students use their knowledge of physics to innovate and design skate-park obstacles, using computer modeling software. They can print materials and incorporate them in their final projects.

The seventh-graders complete a design and modeling course, which is an introduction to engineering. Using the design process, Merrick said, students develop an idea, use computer-assisted drafting programs to bring it to life and a 3D printer to make a prototype.

"The eighth-graders taking robotics use the skills gained in seventh-grade design class to create and invent an adaptive piece, or part of an automation and robotics challenge," he added. "The gifts from GJEF have enhanced the STEM experience for students."

Tiffany Hanna, Lincoln High School Exceptional Student Services teacher, said the foundation has really helped her students over the years.

"Last year, we got a grant for $2,500 to provide virtual-reality goggles and iPods for our students," she said. "This technology allows our students to access places and experiences like never before. We are also expanding to use them to teach everyday living skills."

Hanna said her students also benefited from $300 mini-grants this year that helped fund a monthly bowling league for students with multiple disabilities from Upper Arlington and New Albany, to promote social skills.

"We also use the $300 grant to provide community access for students to increase their independence and learn to transition to adulthood," she said.

Up for bid

Tomko said about 400 silent-auction items and 12 live-auction items will be part of the gala.

A few highlights for the live auction are two tickets to see the Tony Award-winning musical "Dear Evan Hansen" in New York City, including a backstage tour given by Gahanna Lincoln alumnus and Tony Award nominee Mike Faist; vacation packages to Mexico, Las Vegas and Florida; and an Ohio State University football package.

Also planned are a raffle to win four Justin Timberlake concert tickets and a wine-pull event.

Individual tickets cost $75 and include a catered buffet dinner and desserts that local restaurants have donated.

To purchase tickets, visit www.gjef.org.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla