Think BIG program grows

Phoenix Contact leaders from Germany and the U.S. present a giant check to the Capital Area Intermediate Unit

Phoenix Contact awards $565,000 to Capital Area Intermediate Unit to expand 4th grade STEM curriculum

Middletown, Pa. – Many fourth-grade students in Central Pennsylvania will have the chance to participate in a hands-on science curriculum based on Phoenix Contact’s Think BIG program. As part of the company’s 100th anniversary celebration, Phoenix Contact leaders from Germany and the U.S. donated $565,000 to the Capital Area Intermediate Unit (CAIU) 15. CAIU will use the funds to formalize and expand the curriculum for schools within its territory.

Phoenix Contact developed the Think BIG program in 2017 in partnership with Foose Elementary School in Harrisburg. Each month, from November through May, employees volunteer in the classroom to teach hands-on science lessons. The curriculum uses engineering methods to solve problems in the context of clean energy.

During the remaining 2023-24 school year, the CAIU team will shadow Phoenix Contact employees on their monthly visits to Foose Elementary School so they can formalize the curriculum. CAIU supports 60 elementary schools in Dauphin, Cumberland, Perry, and Northern York counties. The goal is to launch Think BIG to an additional 15 to 20 elementary schools during the 2024-25 school year. To learn more about supporting this important initiative, please visit or contact

“Phoenix Contact is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and our company’s success is driven by the creativity of our engineers. We believe science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education is the key to building the next generation of engineers, and we’re proud to support STEM programs for students from elementary school through the college level,” said Jack Nehlig, president of Phoenix Contact USA. “Since we kicked off the Think BIG program in 2017, our goal has been to make this fun and educational program available to more students. CAIU is the ideal partner to help us inspire more future engineers across Central Pennsylvania.”

“CAIU is honored and excited to partner with Phoenix Contact for the expansion of the Think BIG program. Our core values are to be great and change lives for students in the capital region, and we believe the expansion of a hands-on, real-world STEM program for elementary students will do both of those things,” said Dr. Andria Saia, executive director of CAIU. “Studies have shown that students in early childhood are forming career beliefs and aspirations, and developing a growth mindset and having the opportunity to engage in in-depth career exploration are critical to their future success. Now more than ever, America needs well-educated students in the STEM disciplines, and starting work with elementary-aged students is a great way to meet that need.”

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Molly McGowan
Molly McGowan | Senior Media Services Representative