Can you imagine Kindergartners and first graders studying engineering and robotics? Well it's happening for the first time in our area at a local school.
A new STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program at Allendale Columbia School shows kids how science applies to the real world.
The kids learn to combine information from various sciences to solve problems. They start off by working with robots.
"It's really fun and you get to like program them," first grader Emma Loman said. "You get to move it up, down, sideways and left."
It's the first time a class like this is being offered to kindergartners through 5th graders. The school brought in a local company that provides robotics camps, to help teach this course.
"(They're learning the) same thing that software engineers, physical mechanical engineers, electrical engineers (use)," Sue Sorrentino with Vista Teach Instructional Services said.
"You can hear that it's not too hard for them," Head of School Michael "Mick" Gee said. "They're engaged, they're out of their chairs and not listening to the teacher all day. They're trying to figure things out and kids love that."
Gee said it's important students learn to think critically, combine subjects and solve real world problems.
It's a gradual program. First the kids learn how to program small robots they can use on the floor. Overtime, they learn to use advanced techniques including sensors. They even work with advanced robots currently used on college campuses.
The hope is more kids will go on to pursue careers in science.
"We want to prepare our students right now for jobs that don't exist yet," Gee said.
"Once they're hooked, they go for it," Sorrentino said. "The younger the better."
There are many initiatives across the country and here at home designed to boost STEM education.
Vista Teach said it's talking to some public schools interesting in offering the classes to more elementary students.