*since 2009 (Impact to date – 252 grade 4&5 youth) TECH4K5 RESOURCES
TECH4K-5 is a program for elementary youth (4th and 5th grades) focusing on enlivening math and science using engineering. To achieve this we utilize a comparative theme of ‘neuro-LEGO robotics’, i.e., comparing artificial (LEGO) and human (brain/human body) robotics. We work with title-1 and rural elementary schools on this program and provide them with kits and instruction to initiate TECH4K-5 after-school programs in their elementary schools.
We believe that early exposure to the connection of math and science to the real world will motivate youth to remain engaged in those subjects through their school life. The comparative robot/human theme uses the versatile learning platform of LEGO MINDSTORMS, a continuum of robotics sets, programming software, and sensors, and connects them to their human counterparts (brain and human body), in a curriculum with both lesson plans and open-ended design activities. An important objective is to also integrate presentation/communication skills and “design thinking” seamlessly into this hands-on program. The overall intent is to enliven learning math, science and communication arts, motivate interest in school work, and encourage pursuit of science and engineering careers.
The program presently supports several title-1 and rural schools in Missouri. In Columbia, we work with the Columbia Public School administration to select the elementary schools. The following Title-1 Columbia schools have and/or continue to participate in the program since 2009: Parkade Elementary, Blue Ridge Elementary, West Boulevard Elementary, and Alpha Hart Elementary. Out of town schools include Southern Boone Country Elementary School (rural; Ashland, Missouri), Grandview Elementary (rural; Higginsville, Missouri), Weaver Elementary (title-1; Springfield, Missouri) and LongFellow Elementary (title-1; Kansas City, Missouri). MU graduate and undergraduate students team up with a science and a math teacher in the school and a local mentor of their choice, to train them in conducting 1.5 hr/week after-school program for up to 20 students from grades 4 and 5. The lesson plans and activities are developed with the intent that the participating teachers will use them later in the regular elementary classrooms. We are in the process of seeking local company/business partners to expand the program to other rural and inner-city elementary schools in Missouri and surrounding states.