In our plan for the non-profit we see the following key enablers to meet students’ needs.
We have been fortunate to have varying amounts of donated space for students to work on robotics for the last several years. While we don’t always have heated space or may have limited access, we are very thankful because, without it, the equipment sits in a trailer between competitions. But being hobos has limited student participation and access and is physically wearing on volunteers due to constantly moving equipment. The quickest way we can expand capacity and serve more students would be to find affordable space.
An ideal location has good load in/load out parking, cardkey access (or similar) or our ability to add it, room for 2 fields at a minimum, and room for 5-15 teams and their equipment. If it were large enough, it could be a location for informal competitions which would help to make it financially self-sustaining.
A location in within walking distance of the FLEX bus, which runs from Longmont to Fort Collins and is free for students, would help us serve our demographic.
With a little more space we would set up our donated computers for students to play select computer games, after homework is complete or during school breaks. There is a growing body of evidence on the usefulness of video games in education as well for people as they age. This research suggests that a center could be just as busy during school hours as after. The same senior adults at the center during the day could help by volunteering after school.
STEM Work Center
Of great need in the Loveland area is a center dedicated to informal learning and hands on experiences. With even more space programs such as the Creating Learning System allow students to sample a wide array of technology and skills and allowing them to return and spend more time on those that interest them. Hand-on programs and projects where students direct their own learning teach them to become self-learners which is needed to become a life-long learner. Technology is changing so fast that what people learn today becomes obsolete in 3-5 years. With the Internet, it is possible for self-learners to continue to learn new skills throughout their lives.
STEM Create Center
At full scale size, a center that can safely teach appropriate aged students the ability to design, machine and fabricate parts; integrate electronics and produce projects of their own making creates life-long learners that are job ready. Rather than prescriptive learning people learn while working on a project that is all their own. These are the projects that will propel students much faster and further. From autonomous scale cars, to GPS related smartphone applications... these projects answer the student's question "wouldn't it be cool if there was a thing that did, well, something we’ve never dreamed of.”