Monday, July 18, 2016

Tech Camp in Review: Hello/Goodbye from YCS Dave!

Hello Brashear community!

My name is David Fuhrman. I am a KEYS Service Corps AmeriCorps member serving as a program facilitator from The Y Creator Space (YCS) at the Hilltop YMCA. It is my role to deliver STEM programming, especially robotics and tech programming, to different sites in Pittsburgh. YCS delivers STEM programming through the lens of design thinking, to engage kids in problem solving. Our philosophy is that STEM knowledge can usually be attained through a quick Google search, while the experience of problem solving through STEM-related challenges enables kids to learn how to tackle problems involving uncertainty, which leads to preserving a sense of wonder, higher educational attainment, and a richer intellectual life. 

These last two weeks I have had the pleasure of working with ALEC to bring their kids STEM programming, and what a ride it's been!

We explored mechanical engineering and computer programming using Hummingbird Robotics Kits, Create Labs Visual Programmer, and SNAP! 

We constructed LED flashlights to learn about circuits, and electromagnets to learn how DC motors work. 

We deconstructed some electronics, including laptops, a VCR, and a large 100 disc CD player, to learn about the various components that make up the electronics in our homes. 

In our discussions and during free time we touched on STEM careers, like engineering and programming, and we even learned a bit about Rubik's Cubes, binary, and hexadecimal.

It was such a fun week for me, and it went by so quickly. The way ALEC is run, and the staff relationships with the kids, created an ideal atmosphere to bring in YCS programming. The kids here were immediately engaged and focused on learning from the experience. Behavior problems, which can sometimes eclipse lessons, were mostly absent thanks to ALEC's staff and their thoughtful approach to behavior management.

The kids went from having little to no experience with robotics to building and programming their own robot animals in four days. They engaged with electronics actively, instead of passively turning them on for normal use. They tackled a lot of STEM material in two weeks, and best of all they enjoyed it. 

I feel grateful to have worked with ALEC, the awesome staff here, and especially such a wonderful group of kids! 


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