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Bringing Robotics to a STEAM Elementary School

Myles has been playing a lot of ST Math. So much so that the ultimate frisbee champion and class valedictorian mentioned it while delivering his graduation speech to the students of Amelia Earhart Options for Knowledge Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois, last month.

Earhart and ST Math STEAM Valedictorian

Like Myles, students enrolled at Earhart experience learning a little differently than other kids their age. From kindergarten on, students are exposed to a rich curriculum designed to put them on track to a rewarding career in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). 

Earhart and ST Math STEAM Students

Recently, Earhart opened a STEAM lab designed to promote collaboration and intellectual curiosity. The school received funding for educational materials from various sources but needed assistance with purchasing robotics kits for their students.  

When our team learned about Earhart's need for these robotics kits, we wanted to help. Customer Success Manager, Gina McHugh, and Education Partnerships Manager, Corinna Chau, have worked with Earhart for nearly ten years and thought they would be a great candidate for MIND's Paco Bazaar gift. 

Students are so expressive, and Earhart's STEAM lab will be an ideal space to let them explore their interests and see just how talented they are.

Corinna Chau, Education Partnerships Manager

What is the Paco Bazaar Gift?

Each year, MIND artists and designers create limited edition and one-of-a-kind art pieces to raise money for school projects. In December 2019, they sold these pieces during an organization-wide conference, allowing their fellow MIND colleagues to participate in the fundraising effort.

Paco Bazaar JiJi Quilt

Senior Visual Designer, Jo Zafra, and our MIND artists started Paco Bazaar to use their creativity to help raise money and give back to communities in need. 

I always look forward to what we come up with each year for the Paco Bazaar. This year, we had even more colleagues contribute their artistic talents to the cause. A premiere piece that we auctioned off was a penguin quilt that several MINDers stitched together themselves. Everyone here is so passionate about giving students opportunities to love math. You can really see the love and care our staff put into their creation.

Jo Zafra, Senior Visual Designer 

MIND Delivers Robotics Kits to STEAM Lab

Earhart and ST Math Adminsitrators

Gina and Corinna are a dynamic duo who both share a deeply held passion for educating underserved youth. Between the two of them, they have over 30 years of experience in education and have seen the transformative power that a STEAM curriculum can have on students and teachers.  

When we talk about ST Math, it's important to acknowledge how teachers grow alongside their students, too. Earhart's STEAM lab will not only help students build their confidence to solve challenging problems, but also give teachers the opportunities to become skilled facilitators. 

Gina McHugh, Education Success Manager

They would have loved to have visited Earhart sooner, but their plans for an in-person visit were put on hold because of COVID-19 school closures. After months of emailing back and forth, the two of them were able to make a memorable trip to deliver the robotics kits this June. 

Earhart and ST Math STEAM Lab

"STEAM helps students build their curiosity. It compels them to ask questions, think outside the box, and discover unforeseen solutions that open up new worlds and possibilities," said Earhart principal Dr. Brenda DeMar-Williams while giving a tour of the recently completed STEAM Lab. 

The design and engineering process embedded in STEAM education has several overlaps with developing curiosity and resilience, among other essential life skills. The goal is to get students engaged with each content area and encourage them to persevere even if their initial attempts are unsuccessful. Earhart's math coach Lakeshia Shipp tells her students during math time that "if their answer isn't quite right, see that as an opportunity to keep trying until you learn what to do. It's a great way to grow." 

We can't wait to see what innovative ideas will come out of Earhart's STEAM program when the students return to school in the fall. 

Interested in working with an amazing group of colleagues who give back to the community? Learn more about life at MIND. 

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Parker Erickson

About the Author

Parker is MIND's Content and Community Specialist.

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