For a third consecutive year, Florida International University (FIU) partnered with Verizon for an entrepreneurship and tech innovation summer camp geared towards minority, middle school males in South Florida as part of their Verizon Innovative Learning Program. FIU’s Robotics & Digital Fabrication (RDF) Lab hosted two weeks of workshops as part of the tuition-free program.
The Verizon Innovative Learning Program originated after Verizon researchers identified the severe under-representation of minority, under-resourced males in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields in comparison to their Caucasian peers. This educational program offers an intensive and innovative curriculum for STEM learning through summer camps. The camps are offered throughout the United States to help young boys gain the required technological skills for succeeding in today’s digital econom, and find a future in the high demand STEM fields.
In this years’ camp, students received hands-on learning experiments in next-gen technologies including robotics, augmented reality, and 3D printing, as well as training in design software at the RDF lab. The lab offered two different workshops for students. First workshop focused on teaching 3D printing technology, where students learned how to draw an object using a 3D modeling program, and then printing a physical version of what they have drawn with 3D printers. Each student was able to take home what they made during the workshop as a souvenir.
The second workshop had a focus on teaching the basics of VR technology. In this venue students were asked to come up with an idea for a simple game, draw its environment using 3D software and export it to a game development environment. This process allowed the students to envision a game, create its environment, and take pride in playing it. “The kids truly enjoyed the VR experience because it gave them the opportunity to not only create something of their own but also see their creation come to life and get to play it at the end,” said Carneasha Parks, biology teacher at Norland Middle and After-School All-Stars mentor.
FIU alumnus and camp instructor, Kevin Veres, M.Arch ’19 said that “This was a fun opportunity for me to teach the students a skill that I acquired during my time at FIU. It’s amazing to see what young adults can do in just two days! It blows my mind to see their creative ways of thinking about getting around the limitations of the software.” Deynis Ortega, 8th grader at South Miami Middle expressed his excitement by saying that “The summer camp is really fun and allows us to interact with technology and VR and meet new friends. I hope to do this again in the future.”
The camp was fully funded by Verizon through a grant received by FIU After-School All Stars and run by their Senior Program Director, Richard McKinley. The workshops were held on June 12 to June 26 starting at 9 a.m., lasting until 3:30 p.m. Lunch, refreshments, and transportation to and from the University were provided to the campers for no cost.
For more information on the program, visit www.VerizonInnovativeLearning.com.
Follow CARTA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram