Dear Robotics for All Community,
While our classes have unfortunately been suspended, behind the scenes our team is working hard on major improvements to Robotics for All. We are personally inspired by everyone’s adaptability and dedication to Robotics for All. As we have witnessed from the countless Zoom meetings we have had, our volunteers are using this period of self isolation to help Robotics for All give back to the community more effectively than ever before.
Over the past two weeks, our volunteers have collectively donated dozens of hours on several key initiatives, and we have some exciting new updates to share with you:
1. Brand New Curriculum
We currently have three levels of curriculum for 1st-5th graders: Experimental Building, Programming Fundamentals, and Creative Automation. Our curriculum has served us well in our three years of operation, but we too have learned so much and there is definitely room for improvement. We are pleased to announce that our elementary school curriculum will be streamlined into two curriculums: Early Builders and LEGO Robotics. Each new curriculum is being designed for seven weekly classes, with a further seven week extension for students who re-enroll. These new curriculums incorporate many elements from our old curriculum, but they have a greater focus on experiential learning versus direct instruction. We believe that our curriculum should be just as much fun as it is educational.
2. Online Tutorials Videos
We are in the process of making online tutorial videos for all of our curriculum. Of all the things that this COVID-19 outbreak has taught us, one thing is that online learning is part of the future of learning. These online tutorial videos will not replace our in-person classes, but they are a step forward to our goal of building a full digital classroom for our students, of which there are many benefits. For example, if we are to expand to rural communities, there may not be a source of volunteers nearby. These videos can also be used in class to help students who need help understanding a concept. If you are curious, we invite you to check out one of our online videos at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1TXtXO2MTE.
3. Middle School Curriculum
It has been a longtime goal of ours to expand to middle school and we are now in the beginning stages of developing a curriculum. The curriculum is based off of mBots, a tested educational platform for learning robotics. We plan to start middle school classes as soon as logistically possible, hopefully by the fall of 2020 if not early 2021.
4. Reduced Ratio of Student to Laptops and Robotics Kits
Currently our ratio of students to laptops and robotics kits is about 4 to 1. This could be improved to give students more interaction with the laptop and robots. In the past we have prioritized our resources on expansion, but we have decided this time to focus on improving the quality of our instruction. Starting next school year, all our classes will feature one laptop and robotics kit to every two students, a ratio that even the most expensive for-profit robotics enrichment programs have.
5. Writing New Grants and Reducing Costs
The months and years ahead of us are unpredictable, and as an organization that relies on donations, a potential economic recession is no good news for us. Fortunately we had a successful winter fundraising season, but future expansion will be dependent on whether we are able to receive more donations. We are also reducing our costs by transitioning our 1st-3rd grade classes from the LEGO Mindstorms Platform to a platform that is a quarter of the cost but just as effective.
While these times are definitely tough on everyone, we are proud that Robotics for All and our volunteers are making effective use of this troubling time. We are confident that once the world wins its fight against this virus, we will come back stronger and better prepared than ever before. We extend our appreciation to our volunteers who are graciously donating their time at home to making these improvements possible.
In the meantime, we wish the Robotics for All community all the best health and safety as we win the fight against this pandemic together.
Max and Garrett
Founder and CEO
Vice President and COO