Southern California After-School Program Receives STEM Grant

THINK Together, a non-profit after-school program serving more than 50,000 students in communities throughout Southern California, has received a $250,000 grant from energy provider Southern California Edison (SCE) to support the program's science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education efforts.

The organization has announced plans to put the grant money toward the use of PCS Edventures' Academy of Robotics (AOR) program. With participation in the program, AOR installs a complete mobile robotics laboratory. Educators and students can then use the lab for a wide variety of STEM activities, experiments, and research, such as designing in a CAD program, building walking machines, and conducting programming experiments. In addition, students learn and practice STEM-related and universal skills such as teamwork and cooperation, problem solving, reasoning and analysis, and critical thinking, all identified as critical developmental skills by the Partnership for 21st-Century Skills.

"The focus of after-school programs is no longer simply fun and games; when aligned with a child's school day, [they] can extend a student's annual learning time by up to 50 percent," explained Randy Barth, founder and CEO of THINK Together. "The Academy or Robotics Labs will dramatically enhance our existing STEM education curriculum and provide additional hands-on enrichment activities that promote active minds and positive skills development for our Middle School students. And exposure to the Robotics Lab will no doubt put some students on a path to STEM careers."

THINK Together said it plans to implement the AOR program at 41 middle school sites, serving about 15,700 students, in Southern California during the current school year.

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Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.