Brooklyn Schoolkids Do the Robot

What happens when you mix young engineers, teachers, students and robots in a Brooklyn classroom?

"A whole bunch of magic," says Marilyn Gelber, president of the Brooklyn Community Foundation. The foundation is giving a $500,000 grant to expand a program that invites engineering students into serve as mentors in Brooklyn schools. The program, Central Brooklyn Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiative, is operated by the Polytechnic Institute of New York University.

The after-school initiative, launched in 2007, now operates in 18 schools, grades five to nine. With the foundation's grant and with additional funding from outside donors, the program hopes to be in 36 schools in three years. To date, the Brooklyn Community Foundation has given $800,000 to the STEM initiative.
"We see it growing beyond robots into more intensive science and math instruction," says Ms. Gelber.

Graduate engineering students from NYU-Poly serve as fellows in the classroom, working with teachers to develop projects that build off of classroom education. Robots are a key tool in teaching children fundamental math and science concepts. In short, they are a "cool factor" that gets students engaged, says NYU-Poly professor Vikram Kapila, the program's principal investigator.

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