Friday, November 19, 2010

Can BDPA Expand SITES Program to Elementary School Students With Tech Corps?

I drove out to Columbus Ohio in order to meet with Lisa Chambers, Tech Corps Ohio state director. BDPA Columbus chapter member Andre Young joined us in a discussion about possible strategic alliance with Tech Corps on local and national level.

Lisa shared with me the 15+ years of history for Tech Corps. The group was founded in 1995 by Gary Beach, Publisher Emeritus of CIO Magazine. Tech Corps is committed to enhancing K-12 education through the effective use of technology by recruiting, placing and supporting volunteers and by developing partnerships between schools and the community.

Tech Corps programs have evolved over time. Lisa shared with me insights on the Student Tech Corps and Girl Tech Corps programs. However, we spent most of our discussion talking about the TECHie Club and Summer Camp (Elementary School or Middle School)

The TECHie Club is an after-school program for 3-5 grade students. It is a very intense program that puts a greater emphasis on computer science than some other programs. There are modules focused on programming, robotics, digital media and web development. The young 'uns are able to communicate amongst themselves and with other TECHie Clubs around the nation on a blogging platform provided by Tech Corps.

TECHie Club is a program with a proven curriculum. The students, schools and parents are very excited about the program. Volunteers are needed to facilitate the TECHie Club experience. Each TECHie Club (maximum of 20 students) typically meet weekly for 90-120 minutes throughout the school year. Schools designate a Site Coordinator to manage students and assist volunteers. TECH CORPS staff trains teams of tech-savvy volunteers to use the TECHie Club Implementation Guide and Lessons to introduce students to computing topics.

In my opinion, this is a remarkable opportunity for BDPA members and leaders. We have a remarkable K-12 youth education program, Student Information Technology Education & Scholarship (SITES) -- however, our program is heavily focused on high school programs. Only one chapter (Richmond) works consistently with elementary students. It seems like great synergy for BDPA members to volunteer to work with TECHie Club. Don't you agree?

Here are current TECHie Club volunteer opportunities in Ohio. Of course, you can get more details from Lisa Chambers by email or phone (614.583-9211).

There is also a strong Tech Corps Texas organization that seeks volunteers from BDPA members and other BETF-Blog readers.

I am making a personal commitment to identify volunteers for the TECHie Club start-ups in three Cincinnati elementary schools -- Hartwell, Kilgour and Mount Washington.

Do you think BDPA is ready to expand its SITES program to help 3rd, 4th and 5th graders in elementary school?

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