By Nancy Edwards
Tutoring, math and science: these words are likely to provoke unpleasant thoughts, expressions and groans from most school-aged children. However, students attending a local learning center don’t realize they’re absorbing vital skills for potential careers. They’re just having fun building robots with LEGO bricks.
This past year, Sylvan Learning of Fishers was one of 50 satellite locations in the nation chosen for a pilot program, Edge, which includes computer coding and robotics and a program using science, technology, engineering and math skills, also known as STEM.
In addition, two senior academies set to open in August 2015 in the Hamilton Southeastern School district will offer STEM courses, allowing seniors in high school to complete college-level courses.
“STEM is a big focus in education right now,” said Georgia Paulding, director of franchise development for Sylvan Learning. “This program allows students to get to know technology-related fields.”
Starting in the second grade, students get to learn and practice skills related to science and engineering by building and programming a robot using software from LEGO Education.
“Kids are begging parents to take them to after-school tutoring,” Paulding said. “Who doesn’t want to play with Legos all day?”
When students learn to animate their own robots on screen, they can create a robot that walks, runs or ‘kicks’ goals. “The robot is doing what you are wanting it to do,” Paulding continued. “[Students] see the immediate positive impact.”
Jill Henderson, owner of local Sylvan Learning of Fishers, agreed. “Kids are far more engaged in a digital platform. They’re getting to see the fruits of their labor immediately,” she said.
In addition, Henderson noted that, as a result of students practicing technology skills through creation and animation, they’re having so much fun that they begin to talk about a potential occupation using their new abilities.
“Just about every person who participates (in the program) talks about wanting to do this for a living,” she said. “They wall want to create and like video games, the one career area they are most familiar with. They say, ‘I could do this all the time.’”
As well, Henderson said she is seeing more girls interested in math and science, subjects that may have intimidated them in the past.
“This (program) helps girls who are scared of math not be so scared,” she said.
What started out as a summer enrichment program will be offered after school and on weekends at the Fishers Sylvan location at 11740 Brooks School Rd., Suite A
beginning after the first of the New Year. For more information, please call 913-0963 or go to www.sylvanlearning.com.
With over 30 years of experience and more than 800 locations throughout North America, Sylvan Learning is the leading provider of personal learning for students in grades K-12. As the leader in supplemental education, Sylvan is transforming how students learn, inspiring them to succeed in school and in life. Sylvan’s proven tutoring approach blends amazing teachers with SylvanSync™ technology on the iPad® for an engaging learning experience. Sylvan programs include study skills, math, reading, writing and test-prep for college entrance and state exams. Sylvan also provides educational services to public and non-public schools. The company was founded in 1979 and is headquartered in Baltimore, Md. For more information, call 1-800-31-SUCCESS, visit www.SylvanLearning.com or Sylvan’s Mom Minded blog at www.SylvanLearning.com/blog.