Students from inner-city communities generally don’t have the same opportunities that children from more abundant socioeconomic areas do. School districts have endured drastic budget cuts, and with very basic academic programs being eliminated, unique programs such as robotics take little priority. How, however an after-school program, After-School All-Stars, Los Angeles, is bringing the world of robotics to a small group of students from a deserving neighborhood.
“Students were just interested in learning about robots and continually told me that they were interested in creating them,” says Liz Carter, After-School All-Stars, Los Angeles Program Director who oversees the robotics program at College Ready Middle Academy #5 in East Los Angeles. “I understood that this activity would not only teach the students about engineering and science, but it would expose them to future careers.”
After-School All-Stars, Los Angeles is a leading after-school program provider whose programs educate, enlighten and inspire thousands of students each day through after-school activities centered around health, fitness and nutrition; the visual and performing arts; and youth leadership and community service learning. ASAS-LA brings innovative, cutting-edge enrichment programs to K-12 students that contribute to reducing drug use, crime and violence; while increasing their safety during the after school hours. The organization serves over 11,000 students annually at 35 schools located in disadvantaged areas throughout LA County.
Kobe Bryant is an ASAS-LA Program Ambassador. Last school year, the program provided College Ready Middle Academy #5 funds to purchase VEX Robotics kits, and the new program was established at the middle school site.
8th grader, Andrew Castillo is an active participant in ASAS-LA Robotics. Through grassroots efforts such as speaking to professional adults about the program, Andrew was instrumental in spearheading fundraising efforts that helped send his school team to the VEX Robotics World Championship in Florida last April. “I love robotics because I want to be an Air Force mechanic!” explains the future technician.
“Last year, students like Andrew, who were devoted to ASAS-LA Robotics would come to the programs daily and devote an hour to academic enrichment and studies,” says Program Director Liz Carter. “After their homework was complete, students were transfixed on creating their own robots, learning the mechanisms of how they worked, and took pride in their projects.”
Carter hopes to expand the program to other school sites this year, saying: “when kids find something they are passionate about, there are truly no limits to what they can do. I want to enable our students with this opportunity…after all, these kids could very well be future engineers if they stick with it.”
For more information on After-School All-Stars, Los Angeles and how to get involved involved, please visit: www.la-allstars.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.