HTSD and BGCWPA to Advance CS and STEM Learning Through Intensive, Interactive Programming
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Western PA and Hampton Township School District will advance CS and STEM learning by launching the AI Pathways Institute (AIPI) and Teen Accelerator this summer, thanks to a $237,654 grant from the PAsmart initiative. The AIPI and Teen Accelerator is an intensive, interactive, hands-on program for rising 9th-11th grade students who have historically been underrepresented in the field.
“We’re so pleased to be able to reach out to some of our students who haven’t maybe thought about these STEM opportunities before,” said Dr. Michael Loughead, Hampton Township School District Superintendent. “This really is a win-win situation for all of us. We’re so very excited to partner with the Boys & Girls Clubs to help us reach other boys and girls in the region who might not have these STEM opportunities elsewhere.”
The program connects youth to project-based learning, mentorship/career exposure, higher education, and industry as they study artificial intelligence, computer science, human-centered design, and STEM careers. From trash cans that sort trash and automatically recycle, to wearable devices that help treat drug addiction, youth will be exposed to eight Pittsburgh companies who are using artificial intelligence to solve big problems.
“We are very excited to be a part of Gov. Wolf’s initiative to advance STEM education and workforce development among teens in our local communities and partner with Hampton Township School District. In the last year, Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania has launched robust STEM education programs including a partnership with Ready AI and recently participated in the World AI Conference for Youth,” said President and CEO Dr. Lisa Abel-Palmieri. “The teens that we serve across all of our branches will have the opportunity to be better prepared for high-demand STEM occupations in our region that require skills in computer science, artificial intelligence and problem solving. We’re also looking forward to partnering with several organizations dedicated to expanding computer science, including Remake Learning and Carnegie Mellon University, who will help us measure the outcomes of the program so it may be replicated elsewhere across the Commonwealth.”
The PAsmart initiative was announced in November 2018 by Gov. Tom Wolf, who pledged $30 million in grants would be available to invest in K-12 computer science and STEM education, expand registered apprenticeships and support job training with Industry Partnership programs. PAsmart was built on recommendations from Gov. Wolf’s Middle Class Task Force, which is comprised of business, labor, education and workforce development leaders.
Robust partnerships with leading institutions of higher education and industry will also be at the center of the program, which will be offered at several different locations. At the Boys and Girls Clubs of Western PA branches and at the Hampton Township School District site, teens will have the opportunity to complete the three-week summer program. Following completion of the program, the teens also will be eligible for paid positions as junior staff at Boys & Girls Club branches in the 2019-2020 school year to mentor younger students and continue to build upon their summer projects.
“We’re also passionate about the leadership possibilities this program will bring to our students and look forward to collaborating with eight tech companies in the region,” said Dr. Loughead. “It’s an added value to this partnership and this program.”