Latino STEM Alliance programs inspire and empower students interested in STEM education and careers by strengthening their mathematics and scientific knowledge and fostering their development of “21st century skills" like collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.
Latino STEM Alliance partners with area universities, community groups, and local companies to enrich our own programming and to provide students with a vision of their continued STEM education and subsequent rungs on the STEM career ladder.
Our programs work toward our goals of:
Partnering with inner city schools to augment much needed after-school day care activities with carefully programmed STEM enrichment opportunities
Harnessing children’s natural enthusiasm for learning by providing hands-on learning experiences, team building exercises, and opportunities to showcase the products of their work
Providing parents with opportunities to become involved in their students’ learning and encourage success
Partnering with area universities, community groups, and employers to enrich our own programming and to provide the children with a vision of subsequent rungs on the STEM career ladder.
Learn more about our programs below!
Latino STEM Alliance recognizes the importance of initiating programs in the community to ensure we are reaching as many students as possible. Community locations are identified by the request of parents, students and/or community partners.
Program locations include:
- Lena Park Community Development Center
- The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center
- Roxbury Innovation Center
- Whittier Community Center (Coming Soon!)
Please let us know if you are aware of a community center that may be interested in creating a STEM program.
Latino STEM Alliance’s Robotics programs engage students in fun and exciting hands-on activities where they learn to build and program robots to address specific challenges and obstacle courses. Most students have no prior experience with mechanics, electronics, or programming yet the entire engagement is designed to slowly develop these skills and demonstrate how they apply to everyday life.
The programs leverage diverse and well-known robotics platforms along along with activities developed by Latino STEM Alliance and other organizations. Depending on the location, the program may include competitions among students within the program as well as with students from other locations. All activities are age appropriate and tie back to Massachusetts Department of Education standards by grade level.
- Maurice J Tobin School
- Nathan Hale Elementary School
- Rafael Hernandez School
- Boston Latin Academy
- Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School
- John Winthrop Elementary School
- Martin Luther King, Jr. K-8 School
- Henry Dearborn STEM Academy
- Richard J Murphy School
- TechBoston Academy
- Boston International Newcomers Academy
- Lena Park Community Development Corporation
- The Salvation Army Kroc Center of Boston
- Franklin D Roosevelt School
- Gardner Pilot Academy
- Lawrence Family Development Charter School
Elementary Robotics at the Donald McKay School in East Boston
As Latino STEM has implemented its middle school program, we realized that we were missing an opportunity to cultivate an awareness, interest, and skills in Robotics at a much younger age. Beginning Robotics at the youngest possible stages is important for several reasons:
- Developmentally-appropriate, engaging equipment and materials are readily available.
- Students even at the youngest ages are aware of technology via apps on their parents’ phones, an increasing number of computers at home.
- Technology can be easily integrated into math, literacy, social studies, and science during the school day; it does not have to be a stand-alone class.
- Robotics instruction fosters the development of “21st century” skills—leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, tenacity, and communications—that are needed for success in school and careers.
- Parents of younger students attend Parent Engagement events, such as those which LSA creates, more frequently; thus, LSA can familiarize parents with age-appropriate STEM activities, can help them advocate for rigorous STEM offerings in their children’s schools, and can help them consider STEM educational and career pathways for their children and themselves.
Thanks to a grant from the Latino Legacy Fund of The Boston Foundation, in March LSA began to pilot a Kindergarten through grade 5 Robotics program at the Donald McKay K-8 School in East Boston. Through this grant, LSA has been able to purchase age-appropriate Robotics equipment, which will serve approximately 500 students once the program is fully implemented. The program consists of:
- Training teachers by grade in using the appropriate equipment for their grade(s)
- Providing professional development this summer and fall in in Novel Engineering, a program from Tufts University Center for Engineering Education and Outreach, through which elementary teachers guide students to integrate literacy and engineering using readily-available quality children’s literature as a springboard for developing facility in the Engineering Process
- A field trip for 4th and 5th graders to LSA’s middle school Robotics competition in May 2018
- A minimum of one Parent Event, created jointly by LSA and the McKay School staff, to familiarize parents with STEM, show them the work their children are doing, and to discuss education and career opportunities in STEM for their children and themselves.
As the attached photos and comments from the teachers and principal , the pilot program has been successful. As we hoped, teachers have moved from the training phase to integrating Robotics into their instruction. Their own enthusiasm, skill in posing open-ended questions to their students, and understanding of the developmental strengths and areas for growth of each of their students have made this pilot exceed our most favorable expectations.
Pre-Kindergarten (K1) and Kindergarten (K2)
In math students in K1 and K2 are using Bee Bots to reinforce number recognition, one-to-one correspondence, and beginning addition. In literacy, teachers have created mats to support letter recognition, matching of upper- and lower-case letters, initial sound recognition, and reading CVC (words that follow a consonant-vowel-consonant pattern, such as “box,” “map,” and “fan.”). One teacher was creating a use for Bee Bots in her unit on nocturnal animals.
Teachers encourage students to be more efficient users of the bots. Some students need to program the bots to go step by step along the mat, while others can visualize the steps that are necessary to go from one box to another, and to program all of the necessary steps at one time.
At this grade level, teachers have incorporated Robotics into literacy and math time. Paraprofessionals or student interns work with the students in a group, while the classroom teacher works with another group.
Students in Grade 1 are using KIBO robots. Working in pairs and using a path which the teacher has created from masking tape in the classroom, they program their robots to try to follow the path. Students are encouraged to hear their partner’s ideas, and to design a course that is as efficient as possible.
Teachers have integrated KIBO’s into a unit on Fables and Folktales. Working in small groups, students have learned the elements of a story (characters, setting, problem, and resolution) . They will program the robot to follow the activities of the main character of the story using every one of the commands at least once to do so. They will integrate art into the project, by creating a 3-dimensional model of their main character, which can sit atop the robot.
Teachers have been extraordinarily successful in modeling this abstract process and in providing effective support as students work in small groups.
Students in Grade 3 and 4 use Lego WeDo kits to build and program their robots. During our visit in early May, students were building their robots and beginning to program them to accomplish simple tasks. As pairs of students were at different steps in this process, the teacher extended their tasks by having them take a picture of what they had done and write an accompanying story. The teacher circulated among the students, offering support and encouragement as they did this complex task.
Full Implementation in September 2017
Teachers have supported each other as they work toward full implementation of Robotics in September. For example, second grade students go to first grade classes to show them how to use the KIBO robots, which both grades are using.
Teachers are determining when and how they will introduce Robotics to next year’s classes. For example, the second grade realized how much their Robotics unit has contributed to better teamwork among students and hopes to launch the school year using Robotics.
During summer of 2017, the school has allocated 6 hours of professional development to Novel Engineering training. Teachers will implement Novel Engineering as part of their literacy teaching in the fall.
By early fall 2017, 500 students at the Donald McKay will experience Robotics regularly during the school year.