Great American Teach-In Brings the World of Manufacturing & Robotics into the Classroom

Great American Teach-In represents a national tradition that celebrates a heritage of strategic
partnerships between industry and academia, and underlines the importance of building in-roads between businesses and education. The overarching mission of this national initiative in bringing industry into the classroom correlates with FLATE’s own mission to facilitate industry-education partnerships that are geared to give students a real-world perspective of educational credentials and technical skills needed to succeed in a global marketplace. In fact, the executive director’s article in this edition of the FLATE Focus alludes to the importance of cultivating an “entrepreneurial mindset,” and serves as an added impetus to FLATE’s sustained involvement in Great American Teach-In efforts spearheaded by local schools/school districts.

This year Janice Mukhia, Project/Outreach Manager for FLATE, was part of the Great American

Teach-In at Wimauma Academy where she spoke to nearly 300 students grades K-8 about the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, or STEM and robotics in high-tech manufacturing operations/settings. Mukhia spoke to students about the high-tech, high-skilled, high-paying careers and educational pathways in manufacturing, and showcased how robots are an integral part of manufacturing and automation. Students also learned about the world of manufacturing, the manufacturing processes behind each product that is “Made in Florida,” and were intrigued by Mukhia’s demo of Jane—FLATE’s NAO humanoid robot. Some students also tried their hand in programming the robot and were able to see first-hand the logic involved in programming a robot to perform behaviors based on sensory input. Educators were equally fascinated to learn about humanoid robots, and more importantly explore ideas and the possibility of using robots as a “curriculum tool” in getting students excited and interested about STEM and robotics.

Desh Bagley, who serves as FIRST Lego League Affiliate partner for the Central West Region

and an HCC employee, also participated in Great American Teach-In at Sheehy Elementary School in Tampa where she spoke to 17, third grade students. Bagley’s presentation focused on educational credentials needed to enter the field of robotics. Students at Sheehy Elementary also tried their hand in programming the NAO humanoid robot, and were able to see the importance of developing problem-solving and trouble shooting skills that are important in any workplace. In addition to Bagley and Mukhia, Dr. Alessandro Anzalone, Dean of the A.S programs at Hillsborough Community College in Brandon also spoke to students at Henderson Hammock Charter School in Tampa about career & technical education programs and pathways available to them both locally and across Florida.

For more information on Great American Teach-In, or for an opportunity to invite an industry

expert into the classroom to speak to your students about career pathways, contact your local School District CTE Coordinator, or read the FLATE Best Practice Guide that outlines strategies for "Forging Positive Partnerships" between industry and education. For other information on FLATE-led STEM and robotics initiatives contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org, and/or visit www.fl-ate.org and www.madeinflorida.org.