Release Date: July 16, 2015
BUFFALO, N.Y. – An innovative week-long robotics workshop for middle school students ages 9-12 will culminate with a robot parade on Friday, July 17, at 10:30 a.m. in the Canisius College Science Hall, 2001 Main St. in Buffalo.
The 2015 Art, Robotics and Technology for Youth (ARTY) Summer Workshop is a collaboration among the University at Buffalo’s Techne Institute, Canisius College and AT&T.
Media are invited on July 17 to see how the students have designed and built their multiple configurations for the capstone robot parade, a performance at the intersection of art and technology that incorporates elements of robotics, computer science and media art and design.
New York State Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy will address the students as part of the workshop’s finale and present each of the participants with congratulatory certificates.
The ARTY summer workshop, administered by Sarah Bay-Cheng, director of UB’s Techne Institute, and led by Debbie Burhans, associate professor of computer science at Canisius, is a contemporary alternative to the traditional practice of teaching robotics through programming camps built around competition, robot battles and simulated warfare.
The ARTY workshop is free and designed to be accessible to the broadest possible audience, though predominantly attracting groups currently underrepresented in the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
“We wanted to create a collaborative and creative engagement for the students that moves in the direction of creativity, problem solving, aesthetics and beauty,” says Bay-Cheng. "We're working to expand the way kids think about themselves and technology, to view themselves not just as consumers but as creators. This is important to attract not only girls and young women to STEM fields, but also to allow all students – boys and girls of diverse backgrounds – to think of themselves as creative and competent in contemporary digital culture."
Students work with UB and Canisius artists and engineers to integrate their lessons in computer science, sensors, circuits, electronic music and design into the final program.
In addition to the workshop’s inventive art and technology curriculum, the entire ARTY experience is couched in a unique architecture of multi-tiered mentoring, an expansion to the program made possible by a contribution of more than $16,000 from AT&T.
High school students who have been specifically trained for the weeklong workshop mentor ARTY participants. Those high school students in turn are mentored by college and graduate students who are led by faculty.
“Diversifying STEM disciplines is not just a matter of attracting a more diverse population,” says Bay-Cheng. “It’s also important to establish networks and mentorships in those fields. It's about being able to imagine yourself in different environments and seeing successful people who look like you from middle school though high school and college, to professionals in higher education and beyond.”
The contribution from AT&T is part of the company’s legacy of supporting educational programs focused on STEM disciplines in New York through AT&T Aspire, the company’s $350 million commitment to education. With more than 1 million students impacted since its launch in 2008, Aspire is one of the nation’s largest corporate commitments focused on school success and workforce readiness by creating new learning environments and educational delivery systems to help students succeed and prepare them to take on 21st century careers.