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United Way’s STEM Learning Ecosystem Launches Camp:ASPIRE

INNOVATIVE PARTNERSHIP USES ROBOTICS TO COMBAT SUMMER SLIDE United Way’s STEM Learning Ecosystem Launches Camp:ASPIRE to keep kids learning during COVID-19   This is not your normal summer.  Camps and enrichment programs have been curtailed or cancelled outright.  Children are out of school, but parents are still working—at home or elsewhere. But imagine that students […]

INNOVATIVE PARTNERSHIP USES ROBOTICS TO COMBAT SUMMER SLIDE

United Ways STEM Learning Ecosystem Launches Camp:ASPIRE to keep kids learning during COVID-19

 

This is not your normal summer.  Camps and enrichment programs have been curtailed or cancelled outright.  Children are out of school, but parents are still working—at home or elsewhere.

But imagine that students at home could learn to build robots that mimic animals or solve a community problem.  Now they can, thanks to an innovative virtual summer camp program in robotics offered by the Greater Bridgeport STEM Learning Ecosystem (GBSLE).

The GBSLE is launching Camp:ASPIRE–an acronym for At-home Summer Programs in Robotics and Engineering–designed to immerse local children in hands-on STEM learning activities and creative fun with robots. An initiative of the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County and Bridgeport Prospers, the STEM Ecosystem is offering the program to keep kids safely engaged, and to help combat “summer slide,“ a tendency to lose learning gains made during the school year.

“We’re excited to offer this innovative STEM education program to keep kids learning, problem-solving and  growing skills for the future,” commented Gwendolyn Brantley, Lead of the Greater Bridgeport STEM Learning Ecosystem.

Camp:ASPIRE offers a combination of online and hands-on learning with robotics tool kits.  Daily camp classes are taught over Zoom by trained instructors in two-hour sessions.  Based on learnings from the virtual classes, students then complete two hours of activities on their own, using individual robotic UKITs.  The kits contain hundreds of pieces of lights, motors, wheels, and other gear such as sensors.

“It’s vital  to keep kids learning during the summer, when they can lose from one to three months of academic skills,” added Allison Logan, Executive Director of Bridgeport Prospers, home of the STEM Learning Ecosystem.

Students in low income households are particularly vulnerable to loss, since they have fewer resources for learning outside school.  Overall, math skills are at higher risk of loss than reading skills.  Some  experts warn that summer learning may be even more critical this year, as early school closures could mean a “COVID-19 Slide,” where students could fall nearly a full year behind in math.

“Our goal with the camp is to prevent summer learning loss and maintain academic skills needed for the new school year,” said Brantley.  “Our STEM Learning Ecosystem partners mobilized very quickly to make Camp:ASPIRE available to local students.” 

STEM Ecosystem partners offering the virtual robotics camp program include ACCESS Educational Services, Bridgeport Public Schools, Cardinal Sheehan Center, New Vision International Ministries, PT Partners, and Stratford’s South End Community Center. Camp offerings launch this week, with class options for beginning and intermediate learners throughout the summer.

Learning will continue in the fall as well. The Stem Ecosystem secured a grant to provide UBTECH advanced learning kits to students at Central Magnet High School.

“I’m so proud of our STEM Learning Ecosystem and their innovative initiatives to provide quality STEM learning experiences that will truly put kids on the path to a promising future,” commented Jeff Kimball, CEO of United Way of Coastal Fairfield County.

Camp:ASPIRE was developed through the partnership of UBTECH, a global leader in robots and artificial intelligence, and the STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice, a global initiative dedicated to preparing children to thrive through high quality STEM education. The program is aligned with Next Generation Science Standards. A portion of the camp proceeds are returned to the local STEM ecosystems for camp scholarships.

To learn more about Camp:ASPIRE, contact Gwendolyn Brantley at [email protected].

To donate to the program, visit www.unitedwaycfc.org.

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About the Greater Bridgeport STEM Learning Ecosystem (GBSLE)
The Greater Bridgeport STEM Learning Ecosystem mission is to prepare students to become career-ready leaders by providing access to quality STEM learning environments. It is a collaboration of 35 innovators: educators, business and civic representatives, non-profits, and youth-serving organizations. GBSLE is one initiative of Bridgeport Prospers, a cradle-to-career collective impact initiative. It is a member of the global STEM Learning Ecosystem Community of Practice (SLECoP), a group of 89 cross-sector collaborations seeking to nurture and scale effective STEM learning opportunities for young people.

About Bridgeport Prospers
Bridgeport Prospers mission is to work collectively as a community of stakeholders to have a positive, measurable, and sustainable impact on outcomes for all children and families, from cradle to career. We focus on a set of seven common outcomes, from healthy and ready at three and kindergarten readiness, to high school graduation and career readiness. The initiative is funded by United Way of Coastal Fairfield County. Find out more at: https://www.unitedwaycfc.org/bridgeportprospers.

About United Way of Coastal Fairfield County
United Way of Coastal Fairfield County’s mission is “Together, we mobilize our communities to improve people’s lives.” Our vision is that all children in coastal Fairfield County are successful in school and prepared for success in life. UWCFC serves the towns of Bridgeport, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. Find out more at: https://www.unitedwaycfc.org.

 

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