Last week, volunteer tutors from the Google American Indian Network (GAIN) were working alongside local teaching staff at Greyhills Academy High School in Tuba City, Arizona, and kicking off a robotics workshop to help excite young Native students and support the school as it strengthens its’ Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) program.
The volunteer team was welcomed after weeks of preparation, by school leaders, teachers, and sixteen students from Navajo, Hopi, and other tribes who crave opportunities like this, to explore their capabilities through STEM based learning. The teams focus in training was on preparing classroom content, and with the intersecting pressures of rural America, poverty, and race, STEM projects are often absent or insufficient in detail, to adequately prepare Native American students for technology focused jobs, and advanced education.
The volunteer workshop ethos was built on basic coding concepts and introduced the robot reasoning loop: Sense-Think-Act.
This culminated in a competition between teams for robot ‘supremacy’, and the classes were such a success that several upcoming ‘seniors’ were propelled to reach out for guidance on how to prepare for advanced studies in technology.
“I really appreciate that taking time from a busy work schedule work to come here is a big deal, and it was inspiring to talk to you guys. ”
“Thank you, I’m trying to find a place that’ll get me on the right track so after high school I can get straight to learning. Without a detailed route for me in the computer science industry… it has been really difficult to find people that can help and mentor.”
Greyhills hopes to expand to a permanent program at the school, and to inspire other native schools and students in the area.
Robot kits are expensive, and it can take time to prove that STEM programs like this are worth funding, and so consequently the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), have teamed up to raise funds for additional robot kits that will keep the program at Greyhills Academy alive into the next few years.
Volunteers Tannia Lau (external), Joe Lau (external), David Millard, and Elmar Mair
with students from Greyhills Academy