Miami Edison Park K-8 Center student Lakeria Gathers hopes to one day secure a college scholarship so she can study something related to technology.
Her interest in technology was ignited when a group of students from FIU visited her school, accompanied by a Lego robot, to conduct a demonstration and enroll students in a new after-school program.
“Those FIU students built that robot,” said Lakeria. “It was impressive.”
Now, the program has done even more. It has introduced her to opportunities she did not know existed. “This program showed me that I don’t always need assistance. I am up for the challenge.”
Lakeria’s school is one of two middle schools participating in the initiative known as the EV3 Robotics Program. The goal of the program is to introduce middle school students at Edison K-8 Center and North Miami Middle School to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.
With a $1,950,000 grant from the Florida Department of Education, FIU’s Office of Student Access & Success launched the EV3 Robotics Program. The objective is to create enrichment opportunities – both personal and academic – for middle school students in Miami-Dade County through after-school and summer learning programs. FIU students will serve as student assistants, helping middle school students develop a strong academic foundation through robotics, homework help, tutoring, mentoring, field trips and college exploration.
“At FIU, our goal is to help design effective programs that will not only attract local students to our university, but retain, develop and graduate those students in a timely manner,” said Jaffus Hardrick, FIU’s vice provost for Student Access and Success. “This program gives FIU students the opportunity to serve as mentors and become a positive influence for others, while exposing these middle school students to robotics, STEM, and college at an early age. FIU is proud to continue its collaboration with Miami-Dade County Public Schools in making a difference in the lives of our students and communities.”
The initiative falls under the Office of Student Access & Success, which aims to provide prospective and current students with opportunities and services that will enhance their academic experiences and increase their rate of success in college as well as their future careers.
“The impact this program has already had on our students in just the few weeks FIU has been on our campus is incredible,” said North Miami Middle School principal Patrick Lacouty. “Our students have shown noticeable gains in all-around academic performance and in their attitudes towards learning.”