More About Technically Learning
Technically Learning (TL) is organized exclusively for charitable educational purposes. Specifically, Technically Learning works to enable teachers to inspire and engage students in science, technology, engineering, and math subjects (STEM). We strive to increase the participation of populations that are underrepresented in STEM fields. We provide hands-on learning activities and resources that integrate with existing school curriculum requirements.
Technically Learning believes that every student, regardless of their gender, race, or socio-economic background, should have the opportunity and resources to excel in and pursue a career in STEM fields. By improving the quality of math and science education through hands-on technology and engaging projects, we aim to open the door to STEM fields for all students.
TL spends half its time on the public summer school activity. We partner with principals and teachers to design and implement summer school programs based on robotics for public schools in Seattle, Washington.
Lego Robotics introduces mechanical design and computer programming to the students, while reinforcing many basic math and science concepts, using an interactive hands-on method. Students learn to design and build robots constructed of Legos and program them using a visual programming language.
During the winter of 2005-2006, we met with principals and teachers from 3 public schools in Seattle, WA to plan their summer school program based on robotics activities. Over 3 months in the spring of 2006, two volunteers who are currently TL board members trained 20 public school teachers in building and programming robots. Consulting with both the teachers and principals throughout spring 2006, we designed a 5 week robotics curriculum for the summer school program. This curriculum reinforces important math and science concepts such as torque, friction, numerical ratios, graphing data, and solving equations with variables.
The public schools obtained the Lego Robotics kits and compensated the teachers for their summer school participation with their own funding. TL provided volunteer time leading up to and during the summer 2006 school session. The teachers led the robotics activities during the summer school classes. TL volunteers provided support throughout the summer through weekly training and troubleshooting sessions with the teachers. The classes consisted of 2-3 hours each day of hands-on time with the robotics kits to work on activities that were progressively more challenging. Some of the days also incorporated writing assignments for the students to reflect on and summarize their work and goals. The summer school classes spent the last 2 weeks on an activity to prepare for a robotics Olympics competition on the final summer school day.
The 2006 robotics-based summer school program received wide-spread praise from the teachers, principals and students involved.
The other half of TL's time is spent on activities to further integrate robotics into the public school year. We are currently working with a science teacher at a Seattle public middle school to conduct an after school club based on robotics and science throughout the 2006-2007 school year. The club meets one to two times per week for an hour. The teacher leads the club through activities of building and programming robots based on the same curriculum we developed for the summer school program. A TL volunteer meets one to two times per month with the teacher to provide support and training for the club's robotics projects. We also volunteer occasionally to lead advanced robotics activities with the students.
TL is also currently working with another Seattle public middle school to offer an elective class on robotics for the spring 2007 term. We work with the course's teacher to develop a curriculum for the semester-long robotics course. We also meet with the teacher weekly to provide technical support and training for the following week's activity. Fifty students make up 2 classes for the robotics elective.
We plan to continue the same summer school curriculum in future years, refining the program with our knowledge from last year. In particular, we will provide more in-classroom support for teachers and students with increased TL volunteer help. Over the next 2 years, we also intend to expand this summer program to a few additional public schools in Seattle, WA, utilizing more TL volunteers to train and support the teachers at these schools.
With government grants and funding we raise through individual donations from the public, we plan to purchase more Lego Robotics kits for the public schools. All the other elements of this activity, including developing curriculum and training and supporting the teachers, will be done on a volunteer basis by TL board members and volunteers.
This robotics summer school program furthers TL's purpose by working with the public schools to expose students to more advanced technology than usually seen in classrooms, give students a better understanding of real world applications of math and science, and inspire the students to pursue STEM fields. The robotics activities are fun, engaging and spark interests in students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to explore further education and careers in STEM fields. The summer school robotics activities also reinforce and strengthen these students' foundation in critical math and science concepts. Through our work with the public schools on the robotics summer program, we can help to advance the education and opportunities of the next generation of scientists and engineers.