Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Introductory message...

Google engineers teaching fifth-grader students using LEGO toys?

Ever wonder what Google engineers do for their 20% projects? Well, this one isn't typical...

Back in December of 2008, we invited some folks from Tufts University's Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO) to talk about "LEGO Engineering, from Kindergarten to Graduate School" (video). They described how LEGO building toys - especially the NXT - can be used to enhance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education at all levels. Not only that, but Tufts have a program which they call STOMP (yes, it's an acronym) that brings LEGO Engineering into the classroom. They provide training, curriculum, and a community.

I've wanted to find some way to bring these sorts of educational tools to under-represented communities. I fit in well at Google - we are seriously interested in increasing diversity in engineering-related fields - we need our future engineers to reflect the diversity of the people using our products. Interested? Totally!

The project is described in greater detail here, but the short summary is that small teams of Googlers will spend 90 minutes, once a week, teaching LEGO Engineering at Bishop Elementary School in Sunnyvale (near Highway 101 and Mathilda). We're using the curriculum provided by Tufts, modified to fit our experiences.

We started off, on August 24, by holding a LEGO Engineering Conference to get the teachers and volunteers familiar with the program. The next step is to for the volunteers to actually start teaching in the classroom. That will be another blog post. And another. And another...

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