Michigan-based STEM training center and nonprofit INNOVATE Albion and Kellogg Community College this month joined forces to offer tech classes to elementary, middle and high school students at little to no cost.
According to a news release, the classes, for kids 8 to 18 years old, will be available for at least one year thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Consumers Energy Foundation. Classes that started June 13 at the facility in downtown Albion include Lego Challenge, Lego Adventure and Kids Who Code, while Kellogg Community College will announce tech courses for local students at its five locations later this summer.
Founded in 2019 by caster-and-wheel manufacturer Caster Concepts and its sister company Conceptual Innovations, INNOVATE Albion’s mission is to develop engineering talent for manufacturers in the region. The news release said the nonprofit’s downtown facility was transformed from a three-story, 100-year-old masonic temple into a hub for coding and robotics, complete with a machine shop and classrooms, as well as a regulation-size high school robotics field. The center offers classes throughout the year.
“Our goal is to develop a talent pipeline. We believe that for that to happen successfully, programs and opportunities need to be offered as early as kindergarten,” INNOVATE Albion Executive Director Caroline Dobbins-Hurteau said in a public statement. “We know that if we create the right environment and keep them engaged in STEM education, they will develop a viable career path once they leave school, whether they go on to college or enter manufacturing jobs.”
This is the second grant doled out to INNOVATE this year. The organization was also awarded $40,000 by the Guido A. and Elizabeth H. Binda Foundation to develop four classroom lessons for elementary school students that would cultivate an interest in engineering and robotics, according to the release. Using this money, the center will offer a series of summer classes starting in July to develop students’ problem-solving skills in science, math and robotics, with Marshall Public Schools having committed to piloting the INNOVATE Albion classes this fall.
Albion and Kellogg’s announcement is the latest of many donations and partnerships across the U.S. focused on training pre-college students in coding, robotics and other technical subjects, from the annual SWeETy (Summer Welding and Electrical Technology) Camp in Alabama to the summer academy in Aiken County, S.C., to VHS Learning’s online Python course.
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