BENEFITING: FUND-A-BOT CORPORATION
PLEASE HELP US ACHIEVE OUR GOAL OF DONATING OVER 2,500 ROBOTICS KITS TO SOUTH CAROLINA ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS.
An educational focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) can strengthen South Carolina. STEM skills help foster innovation, improve manufacturing, advance health care, and protect our resources and security. Further, STEM education promotes problem solving, the gathering of evidence, critical thinking and making sense of information, and levels the playing field between learners of diverse backgrounds and abilities.
The federal government has set a priority to increase the number of students and teachers proficient in STEM. Demand for STEM professionals is soon expected to outpace supply, and we need to do something about this. Moreover, the federal government has also identified the need for a 'fairness between places' as relates to STEM education, providing for an equitable distribution of STEM learning in every school in the United States.
While the federal target starts with Pre-K, focus on STEM has been in middle and high school. This is also true in South Carolina. Many school districts have STEM offerings for older children, but younger children are somewhat overlooked. This is due to a lack of age-appropriate options, resource and funding limitations, as well as the learning curve associated with teaching STEM concepts. The result of not offering engaging STEM activities to younger children is that, when they are older, many are not prepared for the rigors of STEM learning and are not interested in the curriculum to the extent that they can truly benefit from it.
In a number of schools across the state, robotics technology has been selected to offer STEM to middle school children. However, until recently, nothing has been available that meets the needs of primary grade educators:
• Engaging, age-appropriate collaborative activities
• Easy-to-assemble and easy-to-operate robots
• A variety of learning activities targeted directly at early learners
• Sufficient opportunity for critical thinking and problem solving
• Reduced learning curve for staff, with available training options
Research has shown that, even while robotics is offered to many South Carolina middle school students, it is usually offered in an after-school setting. This proves to be restrictive to children who, for economic reasons, are unable to participate in after-school activities. The net result is that exposure to robotics is far from diverse. Additionally, even for those students who are able to benefit from robotics at school, introducing robots in middle school proves to be more challenging than many students are prepared for. This supports a need for STEM activities, particularly robotics, being introduced during the school day at a much younger age.
In the summer of 2015, a diverse group of middle school children was provided an opportunity to attend a free summer robotics camp in Gaffney, SC. Sponsored by Dr. J.W. Sanders, Jr., the Rubye C. and Dr. J.W. Sanders, Sr. Summer Robotics Camp provided 24 children a mix of traditional middle school robotics as well as a new educational robotics product line, Explore-A-Bot®, which is affordable to schools, targeted to early learners, and meets the needs referenced above. Interestingly enough, while initially intimidated by traditional robotics, when the children experimented with the Explore-A-Bot robots, their interest in more advanced robots quickly increased. By the end of the 4-day camp, this diverse group of children was looking forward to going back to school and finding ways to get involved with robotics and STEM learning.
It has become clear that getting engaging and affordable robotics like Explore-A-Bot into the hands of early learners across the state will inspire interest in STEM learning and make the school day just a little more fun. To that end, the South Carolina STEM Initiative was developed and now requests your help.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
Your tax-deductible donation to the South Carolina STEM Initiative through Fund-A-Bot Corporation, a 501(c)(3) public charity recognized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), will directly benefit schools in South Carolina. Fund-A-Bot Corporation supports the mission of the South Carolina STEM Initiative to get Explore-A-Bot robots into every South Carolina elementary school at low or no cost, to provide related training and curriculum to educators at low or no cost, and to develop a number of Technology and Learning Centers that schools may visit, without cost, where children will be engaged in a highly interactive and memorable STEM experience.