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Patuxent Mobile STEM Learning Box Initiative

Sarah Cannavo, STEM Outreach Coordinator for The Patuxent Partnership in Maryland, worked with 5th grade students at Ridge Elementary School (RES) to develop a program that provides mobile boxes of robots to be shared by different schools within the county and possibly beyond. Here she describes the project in her own words…

“I work for a non-profit and am not an employee of any school district. My role in the organization is workforce development and education, both professional development for the current workforce and development of the future workforce. This particular project is in support of future workforce development and benefits St. Mary's County Public Schools. The Patuxent Partnership helps establish new STEM initiatives and programs within the community. The public school system is usually our target, but only because they have the largest student base. We also partner with libraries and community organizations to help reach all students. My job is to help these projects get off the ground and become self-sustaining. Sometimes it is helping finance the start-up of the project, but more often than not, it is about networking and connecting the need with the resource. We have Education Partnership Agreements with most of the schools, colleges and universities, as well as many government organizations, so it is easy for us to collaborate with the different partners.”

“The robotics team at Ridge Elementary School (six 5th graders) came up with the concept of the Mobile STEM learning Boxes as part of their STEM Research project (a requirement of their robotics program). This year's theme was “Robotic Technology in the community” and the RES team focused on using robotics in early education. They believed introducing students to robotics in early elementary school was the best way to encourage students to pursue STEM education and careers … by building confidence and introducing students to technology before they could develop a “fear” of it.”

Buying robots for every school or classroom wasn't financially feasible. That's when the students talked about “sharing” robots … next thing you knew, they had developed a plan on how many of each robot, including Bee-Bot and Pro-Bot, it would take and how the 'bots could be shared! The kids held a reception at their school and invited a number of sponsors (corporate members) and some elected officials … and they all showed up!! The students presented their STEM Research and then let the sponsors “play” with the robots. It was a great success and they were able to get 5 sponsors (Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, AVIAN, Dominion Energy and the Association of Old Crows) to pay for the entire project … plus some extras!“

The boxes may be used by all the elementary schools in St. Mary's County … not just Ridge Elementary. Actually, RES already has 'bots so this project was about the other students and helping them experience robotics too. RES students presented the idea to the Governor's Office and hope to have the Mobile STEM Learning Box program implemented in all Maryland counties!”

Contact Information

Name:
Sarah Cannavo
Position:
STEM Outreach Coordinator
School:
Patuxent Partnership
Location:
Lexington Park, MD
Address:
22335 Exploration Drive, Suite 1035, Lexington Park, MD 20653
Website:
http://www.paxpartnership.org/
Tags:
Bee-Bot, Pro-Bot, Fundraising, Maryland
Age:
5th grade