*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 started in 2009 and has supported 12 rural and title-1 elementary schools across Missouri. The application form involves commitment from the teachers and school principal to host the program locally with kits and teacher/mentor support as well as programming provided by Mizzou. The schools presently working with us including the following: Columbia – West Boulevard Elementary. Schools across Missouri – Grandview Elementary (rural and title-1; Higginsville, Missouri), Green Forest R-2 (rural and title-1, Salem, MO), Hallsville Intermediate School (rural; Hallsville, Missouri), Lewis County C1 Schools (Lewistown, Missouri), Mountain Grove Elementary (rural and title-1; Mountain Grove, Missouri), Peine Ridge Elementary (title-1, Wentzville, MO), Weaver Elementary (title-1; Springfield, Missouri), and West Platte Elementary (rural; Weston, Missouri). MU graduate and undergraduate students team up with a science and/or a math teacher in the school and a local mentor of their choice, to train them in conducting 1.5 hr/week after-school sessions for up to 25 students from grades 4 and 5; and as needed, continue to provide support year-round. 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 via the new Elementary Engineering Academy.