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Coach's Corner: STEM After School Programs Grow to 3rd Grade

Fri, Jan 26th 2024 08:00 am

Changes in technology, from AI to computer-driven manufacturing, are at the forefront of all aspects of our everyday lives.

As we learn more about these tools, we must use them to our advantage and adapt. That’s what all great coaches, teachers, and learners do.

You wouldn’t catch me dead rooting for Bill Belichick, but now that he’s gone from the AFC East, I’m okay saying that he showed us how to do it right.

As coaches and parents, we have to adapt our strategy in our “off-seasons,” no matter how successful we were the previous year. Bring in new concepts, lift up new talents, and find every advantage we can.

And for parents with students in the third grade and higher, there is an advantage your kids can access right now!

Did you know kids are already learning Industry 4.0 concepts, troubleshooting, operational efficiency and creative thinking through 3-D printing - and doing it at Robert Morris?

The Batavia Tech Club offers short-session programs with instruction and application through hands-on interactions with emerging technologies.

I’ve seen Jim Dillon grow this idea, constantly making adjustments to equip more students with the skills that will make them the best learners and future leaders.

Jim leads classes in 3D printing, 3D design, micro-controller coding, cloud-based collaboration, CNC laser cutting, and other cutting-edge technology-related skills that are essential to today’s workplace.

His focus is on age-appropriate learning. This week’s programs were for 3rd through 8th graders, and next week’s are for 3rd through 5th graders.

On Tuesday, I joined Jim and his students as they toured a classroom filled with 3-D printers, Arduino controls. It buzzed with activity. To see the instant gratification of making something was great, but seeing students gain the understanding of how equipment works was even better.

Putting these types of technologies in their hands pushes young learners outside of their comfort zones.

This is how you grow and develop interests you may have never been aware of.

In workforce development, we make improvements every year. We tailor our programs to the economic demands and interests expressed by workforce candidates.  That’s how to do it right.

The good news is that our kids already take those steps. Even if they don’t realize it, each new challenge they take on gives them more flexibility in the future.

We have to show them the way and highlight what’s available. While our big events like GLOW With Your Hands are popular, a lot is happening just out of sight.

The Batavia Tech Club is a great example.

We need to continue to equip the next generation of skilled workers with youth workforce programs that are building the pipeline for the growing private sector across our region. Why not expand their minds with the latest technologies being taught by the Batavia Tech Club?

If you’re interested in getting involved with the Batavia Tech Club, please contact Jim Dillon at [email protected] or (585) 297-7779.

- Chris Suozzi is the Vice President of Business &Workforce Development at the Genesee County Economic Development Center.