Mar 26, 2015
It was an amazing and inspiring experience to attend STEM Lab School on a Saturday at Bell High School and meet the mentors and community partners that made this event happen for students at the school. The class was held in the cafeteria where there was a lot of space for mentors to interact and teach students the fundamentals of Arduino to have them start working on their project that’s part of the STEM program. QGITS met and spoke with the STEM mentors running the program for Bell High School that day which was Laura Avendano, Lab School Adminstrator & Teacher Support Coordinator of STEM Institute for Innovation & Improvement at Cal State University Dominguez Hills; Geoffrey Payton, Robotics Lab School Lead Teacher; Michael Lusk of LAUSD Physics & Chemistry Teacher at Washington Prep High School and Tim Laren of Hacker Development Arduino & More.
QGITS: Tell us about the STEM program at Cal State Dominguez Hills.
Laura Avendano: We assist with teacher preparation programs for Science, Math, English and Special Ed Teachers. We provide a training ground for our teachers while serving the community by hosting STEM Lab Schools where students are immersed in STEM activities. Students work on project based learning, robotics, computing curriculum and it’s facilitated by expert teachers who serve as mentors for our new teachers.
QGITS: What’s unique about the program?
Laura Avendano: We service the students in a holistic experience while concentrating on a theme and address it in Science, Math and English. Here at Bell High School the students are working with the Arduino boards. They are working on developing a robot that will be able to respond in an emergency as a first responder of some sort. In their English class, they develop a Marketing plan as well as gather information on different disasters and the different types of responses that are necessary after the disaster occurs. In Math, they tie in more of the theory behind the coding, they get to experience the pieces come together while working on their robots and they understand that every subject is important and you can apply each subject to whatever you are doing whether it’s robotics or if you decide to go into the field as an engineer perhaps.
After the STEM Lab School program wrapped up for the students, QGITS also chatted with Tim Laren of Hacker Development Arduino & More.
QGITS: How awesome to see the high school students working on an ongoing Arduino project.
Tim Laren: It started with Mr. Lusk at Washington Prep High School and recently they wanted to bring his class from Washington Prep into LAUSD as a standard program. Mr. Lusk asked me to get involved. So the two of us designed the curriculum and then designed the kits using Arduino, for the student robot building project. Then he asked me to come down to Cal State University Dominguez Hills STEM program with all the mentors so they can see the kits and discuss how it was going to work. Stem Lab School lets students figure out how to build, create and engineer things. The students are able see things they didn’t think they could do or knew they existed. A program like this can show them that they can do it.
To learn more about the STEM program at CSUDH, check out: www4.csudh.edu/csi3/