Week One of Creating S.T.E.A.M. 2017!

We wanted to provide you and update on the CreatingSTEAM program and our first week summary. Week one was a big success, students arrive by bus each day from Long Island to the Microsoft facility in Times Square NYC.  The students join with other students from the NY Metro area, coming in from NJ and the NYC communities.

Week One provided an immersive learning experience to set the students up for success as they lead into week two of project development. Students have experienced learning to code, building websites, building PCs, team collaboration through competitive gamified learning, integration of coding with robotics, learning to utilize Microsoft Office 365, mastering Windows 10, learning Linux command line coding to script a humanoid robot to stand, and so much more. Each day ends with reflection about their learning and providing feedback to our team and their mentors.  They utilize digital tools to reflect through either a mind map or through Microsoft OneNote, and conclude the day with guest speakers during our career panel discussions.

Students are building awareness and confidence in their knowledge of career paths in STEAM and the skills necessary to compete for roles. This is an entrepreneur experience that helps students discover their strengths and challenge them to stretch outside their comfort zone to learn. Failure is a key factor for their success in this program, as we push them beyond their limits to demonstrate when learning occurs. We teach the importance of failure as a part of the learning program and they see firsthand the emotion that is created when you solve a problem and learn through failure.

Every program we deliver is designed with teams of students who are intentionally diverse across age, gender, as well as social economic backgrounds.  This program is no different, and you can see from the images just how diverse the groups are.  We know through research as well as our own experience how powerful having diverse teams can be.  We see the results directly in the innovative projects that the students produce.  

Here are a couple of quotes from students participating as well as from a teacher who is volunteering for the full 10 days as a mentor/coach.  The feedback comes in each day so I thought it would be helpful to see the progression of the feedback.  The students also take an assessment before and after the program, as a research organization it is critical to evaluate the students experience prior, during, and post the program.

Student feedback – Day 1-5

"Today was awesome, I had a very nice time meeting new people. I found out I had a lot in common with many people, which is rare. Brainstorming with my team was very fun. Together, we came up with many innovative ideas. I look forward to the next 9 days."

"Today was really fun because I had never done coding before, so it was really cool. I really enjoyed learning how to program using Visual Studio Code."

Slide Show DSC_7820.JPG

"Today was an amazing experience that challenged the brain greatly. Especially the sphere project tired everyone out mentally. Building a PC was interesting and fun and I will definitely think about using that in a future career. "

"I enjoyed learning how to use WordPress and will definitely use it in the future. The bridge building exercise was fun and it taught me a lot about architecture and collaboration. "

"I really enjoyed the speakers we had today, they were charismatic and informative.  Speakers like that really help me get a better insight into what I want to do in my future."

Teacher feedback: Mentor/Coach Training Day 1

 "I had a very vague understanding about this program prior to today (what it stood for and what it offered, aside from the knowledge that it was project-based and STEM-based). I greatly enjoyed the fact that mentor exposure to the details of the program was directed by a true appreciation for independent learning. The push to "disrupt" education and the student-centric model is refreshing, inspiring and wonderfully applicable to the classroom ( a setting that is too often wrought with uninspired "teaching to the test" expectations). Although teachers try to combat this with creative approaches, there is fear at the notion of a complete overhaul (even when its sensed that is what students and the climate need). I love the building block projects that are both approachable and fun, as well as the tools we've been exposed to and taught to operate. The creators of this program believe in it, because they are motivated by "social goodness" (and have seen exceptional participant results that only further drive the cause), which they have modeled for their students in like . Thank you!"

Link to view all the images from week one

http://tinyurl.com/WCTD2017CS

We need your help. How can you support our efforts?

Judges: We are seeking judges for our final day 7/28 to judge the student projects.  The time commitment is from 1-4pm, students will begin presenting at 1:30 pm and wrap at 3:30 pm.  We announce the winners just before 4 pm and close out the program by 4 pm. We ask judges to arrive by 1:00 to begin viewing the students projects and prepare of the presentations.  This is an incredible opportunity to see firsthand the impact this program has on students. If you know of someone interested please have them reach out to us at events@we-connect-the-dots.org.

Team Prizes: We are seeking donations for our first - third place team prizes. The students work hard to develop their projects in many cases working outside of the program hours collaborating virtually as a team.  We would like to acknowledge their efforts through small prizes that help to recognize and inspire them to continue learning.  If you or someone you know can support us through a direct donation please go to http://we-connect-the-dots.org/donate/ 

To learn more about this program and our organization please visit our social media sites.

See the live videos from the week- visit our Facebook page - Please like our page

http://facebook.com/weconnectthedots

Learn more about our organization -Youtube channel

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjlHJthxX6VFo1Yw0W3S7yw

Thank you to our volunteers, Mentors/Coaches, Guest Speakers and our Host Microsoft for supporting our organization.

Program Sponsored by:

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AuthorLaurie Carey

 

2016, in our fourth year as an organization, WCTD celebrated our first official CAP Alumni student, Luis Tolosa.  

Luis teaching students Unity3D during WCTD CreatingIDEAS program in 2015.

Luis teaching students Unity3D during WCTD CreatingIDEAS program in 2015.

Luis came to us through a referral from another Long Island not for profit organization, who shared with him the opportunity to be a part of our student program. He was the second student to be invited to shape what is today our Community Ambassador Program. He was immersed in technology and leadership experiences beginning on a trip to Philadelphia, where Luis lead a program teaching 100 plus students how to design video games using XboxOne. This once shy student quickly demonstrated that he was a natural at teaching. Luis progressed from student to mentor and developed speaking and presentation skills as he facilitated panels and classes representing WCTD.  

Luis teaching Unity3D during WCTD CreatingIDEAS program in 2017.

Luis teaching Unity3D during WCTD CreatingIDEAS program in 2017.

This young student from Westbury School District came to us with an uncovered passion to learn and to give back to communities through volunteering and empowering other students. Over the past four years, Luis has donated hundreds of hours each year supporting WCTD.  He has designed curriculum, represented the organization at numerous programs, including ringing the bell to open the stock exchange in NYC alongside MSFT. He has taught students how to code, build PC's, design video games using Unity3D, and mentored students as a team lead at our annual CreatingSTEAM program. He has earned the highest honor from our organization to commit to our CAP program throughout his college years and is now a CAP Alumni, our very first to complete the CAP program from High School through College. Luis exemplifies the meaning of a Community Ambassador and we are honored as an organization to have him as our first CAP Alumni.

Near the end of his senior year of high school, Luis reached a milestone: he was accepted to college with a full scholarship to Columbia University. He would be the first to attend college from his family who immigrated to the United States from El Salvador. Luis graduated from Columbia University in May of 2016 with a degree in Computer Science. He now works as a software developer for a small startup company in his local community in Nassau County, NY. Luis was invited to speak as an honored alumnus to his high school's graduation. Luis continues to "pay it forward" as an Instructor and facilitator for We Connect the Dots, where he inspires students to discover their passion.  

Luis teaching PC Building in 2015

Luis teaching PC Building in 2015

Luis's trajectory from "inquiring student to mentor" represents the WCTD theory of change. WCTD aims to offer opportunity to underprivileged students and to students who cannot make a school to career connection on their own by partnering them with industry experts to mentor and immerse them in STEAM career related experiences. Afterwards, WCTD aims to develop those students to be able to share STEAM content, to choose an area in a STEAM/STEM field, and to commit to a path toward a career in innovation.

Community Ambassadors meet Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in 2016

Community Ambassadors meet Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in 2016

It is hoped that like Luis, more students will pay it forward and commit to a community of their choosing; to mentor, network, and share social capital. To facilitate that WCTD continues to work towards creating environments and opportunities for it to happen . WCTD is able to do so as a result of the work of LC Consulting, LLC, a for profit entity that works directly with schools, school districts, teachers and parents delivering programs, curriculum and professional development. A portion of its proceeds are used to support the opportunities that Luis and many others continue to be a part of.

Join us this fall at are our first annual Gala to celebrate STEAM education, where we will recognize Luis for his contribution as a WCTD Community Ambassador. Join our mailing list to stay informed regarding registration for this exciting first of its kind Gamified Gala in Westbury.

Posted
AuthorLaurie Carey

As I reflect on 2016, I would like to share with our community our organizational changes, our growth, and a look ahead into 2017. Instead of creating one long blog post that would be difficult for most busy people to find the time to consume, I will be posting a series of short blogs to ensure that each update gets the attention it deserves. I hope you find it informative and valuable. 

Organizational Changes

In 2016 we began to develop a more formalized structure to our Community Ambassador Program (CAP). In order to scale this program nationally it was important to design the protocol that would shape the future of the program. Led by our program manager Stephen Sobierajski, this program first took shape in 2013. Over the past four years, the CAP has supported students in gaining workforce experience and 21st century workforce skills.  Stephen shaped the program to ensure students gained the opportunity to be a part of the program development and design of what it is today. A program that enables students to be a part of running the WCTD organization and to gain real world work experience. Teaching students entrepreneurship and building their communications skills both in person and across digital platforms, through collaboration with our teams around the world. Stephen developed playbooks for not only the CAP, but for every program we deliver today. His efforts have provided our organization with the guidance needed to scale and support successful programs across the NY Metro, Darby, Pennsylvania and as far away as Australia. With his leadership, his strong work ethic, and passion for empowering students, Stephen designed the model for our CAP program and the Program Manager role. 

With Stephen as our Program Manager, the organization leaped forward and impacted students around the world. His leadership and drive provided the opportunity for me to build our for profit model to support our long term sustainability model. The foundation of the organization is stronger as a result of Stephen's hard work and passion for creating an impact for students.  

This short video of Stephen sharing why he enjoys working with We Connect The Dots really demonstrates his passion and drive to make a difference for students by supporting their success. 

Stephen moved on to an exciting new role in the fall of 2016. The move provided him the opportunity to be closer to home and to be a part of shaping a global program. I want to take this opportunity to thank Stephen for his contributions to our success, from all of us at WCTD, we miss you and wish you continued success. 

Posted
AuthorLaurie Carey