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learn / 2018

The KidBot Project: Expanding robotics programs to every community in LA!

The KidBot Project: Expanding robotics programs to every community in LA!

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Activation Challenge by LA's BEST

In collaboration with LEGO Education and foundation, LA’s BEST students will learn to code, build robots and prepare to tackle the next big challenges that our city and world will face.

Please describe the activation your organization seeks to launch.

LA’s BEST will expand our KidBot robotics program from the current 16 LAUSD elementary schools to reach the 25,000 children we serve in nearly 200 schools across our city. Afterschool staff will facilitate an innovative learning experience in which students work together to code and build LEGO Education robots. Students will learn 21st century engineering and computer science skills, and even more - they will develop growth mindset, create collaboration and work as teams to innovate and compete.

Which of the learn metrics will your activation impact?​

  • Students’ immersion in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math content

Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?

  • LA is the best place to PLAY

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • City of Los Angeles

How will your activation mobilize Angelenos?

  • Connect Angelenos with impactful volunteer opportunities
  • Increase donations to organizations and causes

Describe in greater detail how your activation will make LA the best place to learn?

Through the proposed project, LA’s BEST will expand KidBot, an afterschool robotics program for Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) elementary school students–at no cost to parents. Created in 2013, KidBot offers children the opportunity to engage with computer science and engineering through hands-on learning experiences that introduce them to the basic components of robot technology and elements of robot design.

LA’s BEST KidBot is hosted on elementary school sites during the afterschool hours in the school’s computer lab. The KidBot program currently serves 320 students in 16 schools. Through the LA2050 activation, we can reach all 25,000 students in close to 200 elementary schools across LA!

LA’s BEST provides high-quality training to program staff — young adults with deep connections to the communities we serve — to facilitate KidBot effectively, while also supporting the development of skills coveted by today’s workforce. “KidBot coaches” guide students through the process of utilizing LEGO Mindstorms kits to work in teams to design and program their own robot.

Over the course of a 12-week period, KidBot participants explore the three areas of STEM learning–mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science–increasing their knowledge of robotics engineering and robot functions. This process takes place as students practice collaboration skills when building and designing their team’s robots and problem-solving skills when programming robots. As students begin interacting with the robot parts, coaches encourage participants through the process of engaging with their work as “engineers” in a robotics laboratory or workshop. With support from foundation, each KidBot site participate in regional competitions with other robotics clubs from surrounding schools. These competitions offer children the opportunity to learn how friendly competition and mutual gain are not separate goals; helping each other is the foundation of teamwork.

A key value of organization is student choice, so children select the activities or clubs in which they take part. With all activities offered at no cost to parents, children who would otherwise not have opportunities for quality out-of-school time learning experiences are afforded important, often life-changing computer science and engineering education through KidBot.

In fostering critical thinking skills, KidBot empowers students to flourish creatively and view competition as another way to learn from and teach others. Further, the integration of social and emotional learning in programming encourages students to cultivate higher-thinking skills such as responsibility, empathy, teamwork, problem solving, emotion management and initiative. These components empower students as they develop strong, positive relationships with peers and adults through their journey to becoming young leaders in the STEM field.

How will your activation engage Angelenos to make LA the best place to learn

The LA’s BEST KidBot program is innovative in how it offers ways for children to use technology strategically in a workshop-like environment. For many students served by LA’s BEST, engagement with technology at home is limited to game-play. At school, computer use is often limited to test preparation or reading and math intervention programs. KidBot offers the opportunity to explore technology creatively through the collaborative process in programming, designing and building their own robots.

LA’s BEST will engage students, staff and supporters across Los Angeles through the proposed activation. All LA’s BEST sites–Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) elementary schools–are located throughout Central, East and South Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. On average, 90% of LA’s BEST students quality for free or reduced-price lunch. For 44% of students served by LA’s BEST, English is a second language. Additionally, LA’s BEST employs more than 2,000 young adults–many whom reside in the same neighborhoods as the service demographic–to teach, coach and mentor the 25,000 children who attend the afterschool program every day.. In addition to cultivating 21st century skills among the children served by LA’s BEST, LA’s BEST provides comprehensive training to program staff, supporting the development of a local workforce prepared for success in today’s world.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your activation.​

LA’s BEST will measure changes in knowledge and attitudes among KidBot participants. As with any new learning, a student’s assessment of their performance capabilities influences their motivation to continue; students need to feel that they can engage and be successful in the endeavor. To encourage that engagement, LA’s BEST students have the ability to self-select the activities in which they take part in. Student self-efficacy is examined through a pre- and post-surveys that measure students’ critical thinking, collaborative learning and persistence.

Where do you hope this activation or your organization will be in five years?

In the next five years, LA’s BEST hopes to engage the 25,000 children we serve with KidBot through locating more funding in supplying computers and hardware for each new program, along with more high-quality training to equip program staff with the necessary tools to support KidBot successfully. By expanding robotics programming to more sites, more children from under-resourced neighborhoods will have the opportunity to explore their interests in science, technology, engineering and math through an innovative, hands-on learning experience. Moreover, facilitating KidBot at more sites enables students to compete against their LA’s BEST peers during regional competitions in addition to non-affiliated schools.