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Engineering for Kids program pushes science

After-school program lets kindergartners through 8th-graders try robotics, game design

POSTED: December 26, 2013 12:25 a.m.

A new program provides students opportunities to learn science, math and engineering even when the school day is done.

The national Engineering for Kids program is beginning a Northeast Georgia branch, with Jeff Butler as director.

“I’m basically working with the schools where we’re going to do it on-site as an after-school (activity), and then we also have evening programs,” Butler said.

Engineering for Kids is an enrichment program exposing students from kindergarten through eighth grade to engineering.

They can participate in activities such as Lego robotics or game design during the weekly
program.

Trained teachers employed by Engineering for Kids are brought in to teach the lessons; the lesson plans are tied to Common Core standards, the curriculum plan adopted by many states including Georgia.

“All the programs match the Common Core standards, which is what the schools are all rolling out in Georgia,” Butler said.

“It’s really a way of hands-on learning that basically helps kids connect the dots between what they’re learning in school and the real world, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Programs are set to begin Jan. 13.

Outside of the schools, there are programs open at First Baptist Church of Gainesville, Mulberry Creek Community Center and First Presbyterian Church.

The only school with lessons in place for the beginning of the year is Hall County’s Sardis Enrichment School, but Butler said that will change as plans firm up.

His children attend Gainesville’s Centennial Arts Academy; he plans to expand there next.

“I’ve talked to several parents that we’re friends with, and they’re very interested in this program,” he said at the Dec. 16 meeting of the Gainesville school board.

At that meeting, board members approved adding the after-school program as an option for students.

Another future location is Gainesville Parks and Recreation.

“We are excited to offer this unique program,” said Julie Butler Colombini, marketing director for the department.

“It’s not only a lot of fun for the kids but is so relevant to today’s learning environment.”

Butler’s ultimate goal is to have learning centers in all target markets, or set locations for all kids to attend.

“It’s really to interest them and get them early, before they think they’re too cool for school,” Butler said.

“And really expose them to engineering, because most kids don’t even know what engineers are. You can get into high school and not know what an engineer is, so we want to change that and get them seriously thinking about ... this as something they might want to do.”

Parents can register their children online at www.engineeringforkids.net/northeastga.

The six-week programs range in cost from $99 to $119.


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