In the last 10 years, robotics programs have flourished throughout Miami-Dade County. These programs have focused on middle and high school students with the occasional school based FIRST Lego League (FLL) team extending the reach of robotics into upper elementary classrooms. Despite research that shows that integrating robotics into early childhood education helps close gender and SES-based gaps in achievements in STEM fields, there is virtually no reach of robotics programs into environments designed for early elementary and preschool ages. The exception are occasional specialized camp or afterschool activities offered at high end private schools. This gap is even more evident within Hialeah were even well-established elementary and middle grade programs such as FLL are a rarity. Of the 41 registered FLL teams within 25 miles of the 33012 area code, only 1 is located in the city of Hialeah and serves middle school aged students.
I intend to make robotics education accessible to kids within the city of Hialeah. Recognizing that opportunities exist for older children to participate in robotics, albeit at specific schools or within specific magnets not in Hialeah, my initial focus is on preschool and early elementary age children. Beyond providing an enrichment activity currently unavailable within the community my hope is that by engaging young children and their parents and exposing them to the benefits of robotics education, the demand for this kind of program in the schools and community will follow.
Using the Vex 123 robotics system I intend to host robotics workshops this summer at community spaces in Hialeah. These sessions using Vex 123 curriculum, will be designed for children and caregivers. As a no cost drop-in activity, I expect frequent new participants as well as returning families. Each session will be divided to address the needs of both these groups. Additional assistance will be provided for each session by a high school assistant.
Funded by Miami, FL (June 2022)