FUNDING ENGINEERING EXPERTISE: THE WORLD OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
The 2028 Workforce
Because our current third-graders will be entering the workforce around the year 2028, it is vital that they be prepared for a competitive world in which knowledge of math and science is not optional, and a workplace in which technology is more than ever a driving force – specifically the burgeoning areas of robotics and artificial intelligence.
Engineering in general is an educational area currently underfunded by government -- and the Foundation will be seeking one-time and multi-year sustainable funding to endow this future for students for whom the discipline is an appropriate fit. It’s an opportunity for community investors to really help shape our students’ futures.
A three-tiered sequence
Why is this important? Because studies consistently show that robotics is the ideal organizer to reinforce fundamental mathematics and scientific process with elementary, middle, and high schoolers, and that it allows teachers to introduce the concepts of systems integration, digital control, innovative design, and much more.
With that in mind, the district has conceived a three-tiered sequence with the goal of familiarizing all students with everything from the basics of computer science and computer coding to sophisticated robotics, engineering, and artificial intelligence.
First, at the elementary level, the focus will be on the basics of STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics – with schools outfitted with innovative and kid-appealing “makerspaces.” These are hands-on workshop spaces stocked with readily available tools and physical materials that encourage exploration and “DIY”-style problem-solving and creativity.
Then, at the middle-school level, LEGO “Mindstorm” units – kits that provide materials, methodologies, and evaluation tools around Design, Engineering, Computer Science, and Coding – will kick of PSUSD’s middle-school Robotics and Coding Project during 4th and 5th-period elective clubs. Seventh, eighth, and ninth-graders will be introduced to the topics inside these fun, activity-based clubs, and will be encouraged to enter the growing number of robotics-themed local, regional, and national competitions.
Finally, at the high school level, interested students will be able to transition into a CTE (Career & Technical Education) Career Pathway around Engineering and Computer Science -- hopefully leading to employment in the field of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. So, for high schoolers, investors would be funding such tools as LEGO “NXT” teaching kits (which offer teachers inexpensive tools to teach embedded systems, advanced programming, programming languages, and engineering competencies, using such things as compass sensors, accelerometers, tilt and gyro sensors, color sensors, and robotic cameras) and Project Lead the Way, a national model for transformational learning experiences around creative, critical thinking in computer science.
The ultimate “payoff” for our donors/investors: a truly technologically prepared next generation of PSUSD students.