South Texas College invited special needs students to engage in robotics courses and STEM concepts through the use of online camps this summer.
STC in partnership with Texas Workforce Solutions Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) offered its Explore STEM! online summer camps to students with disabilities, ages 14 to 22. The collaboration enabled STC to offer two online camps: Lego EV3 Robotics and Arduino Projects Camps in July and August.
In the camps, students used STEM concepts to design, build, program, and test robots to complete a variety of tasks. Skilled instructors worked with students virtually to engage in the design cycle using digital tools to compare problem-solving solutions.
The Explore STEM! camps are not open to the public. Rather, TWC VR counselors contacted their current clients and customers which consists of students with disabilities to be recruited through a referral basis.
“Due to the steady growth in jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) over the past several decades, as well as the higher rates of pay in STEM occupations, Explore STEM! camps aim at increasing the students’ interest in STEM-related careers,” said Leigh Ann Godinez, VR supervisor for TWS VRS. “Students will learn about robotics and engineering through lectures and hands-on activities within the comfort and safety of their homes.”
First RGV provided the Lego EV3 Robotics and mailed Lego Core sets to students’ homes. First RGV then broadcasted courses online from STC’s Technology Campus by means of Microsoft Teams. This enabled students and instructors to collaborate and simulate face-to-face teaching as much as possible.
The Arduino Projects Camp is also being transmitted from the Technology Campus. Just like the Lego EV3 Camp, each student received an Arduino Kit at their home.
“It is commendable that organizations like TWC VRS are willing and able to participate in advanced technical programs at STC despite the challenges presented in the current environment—all for the benefit of the clients they serve,” said Dr. Carlos Margo, Associate Dean of Industry Training and Economic Development. “Utilizing the latest in technological resources, we at STC continue to design, develop, and deliver advanced technical training programs in response to the growing demand for STEM-centered jobs.”