South32 and the Santa Cruz County Superintendent’s Office (SCCSO) today announced a memorandum of understanding to help expand the latter’s Elementary Robotics Afterschool Program to elementary schools throughout Santa Cruz County, Arizona.
For the past two summers, SCCSO has hosted a popular junior robotics camp for students in grades three through five. The camp fills to capacity and has attracted significant interest from elementary school administrators in the county, many asking to see the camp evolve into an afterschool offering. In response, the SCCSO sought funding partners to make the expansion possible. This month, South32 signed on as a major donor. The international mining and metals company, which last year acquired the Patagonia area development option known as the Hermosa Project, is committing $53,100 toward the effort, or approximately 50 percent of the total cost.
“I grew up in a family that deeply valued education,” says South32 Hermosa President Pat Risner. “Both of my parents were teachers and encouraged me to learn by doing from an early age. I understand the life-changing possibilities of hands-on educational opportunities, and so does South32 as a company.
“At South32, our purpose is to make a difference by developing natural resources, improving people’s lives now and for generations to come. We know that technology and innovation will help us achieve that purpose, and one of our goals is for technology and innovation to radically shift our performance. This program closely aligns with our values as a company and with our education and skills development initiatives, and we’re happy to support it.”
Chris Jackson, principal of Mountain View Elementary in the town of Rio Rico, says, “I first saw some of our students learning and having fun building robots two summers ago when I visited a summer program sponsored by the county. I saw students who normally might not get excited about school really enjoy and embrace the hands-on aspects of robotics. I knew instantly I wanted to replicate that at Mountain View. At Mountain View, we are looking forward to sparking students’ interests in a fun and educational ways that are non-traditional in order to meet more of our students’ interests as we help them connect to required learning standards. The key to effective teaching is inspiring students with fun and interesting ways to learn. I feel robotics will help us do just that.”
“I am excited to get this program off the ground as soon as possible,” says SCCSO Superintendent Alfredo Velásquez.
Velasquez’s office has scheduled training for the teachers who will serve as instructors for the new program. Each instructor will receive a stipend, and each school site will receive several robotic kits after the training is successfully completed. The program will be in 13 elementary schools in the district and is forecast to benefit approximately 325 students.