Volunteer Group was Founded by Edward Yan, Bryan Wang, Joshua Wu, Mandy Meng, & Chenyu Lin
Vinci Robotics Academy ("Vinci") is a Burlington and Lexington, MA, based parent-founded parent-run non-profit educational organization that focuses on STEAM education, especially robotics, coding, and innovation.
As a community-based non-profit organization, Vinci's mission is to help students to learn and participate in STEAM more by providing high-quality educational content and services. Among our students, there were a few special needs students with ASD. Unfortunately, they were not able to do hands-on work or teamwork like normal students, but they still enjoyed STEAM a lot. By learning with those special students, our normal students were showing so much compassion to them and tried their best to help them.
From the beginning of 2021, Vinci started the Robotics for Special Needs Students program for ASD students. Edward Yan (8th grade, Fessenden School), Bryan Wang (Junior at Brandis University), Joshua Wu (10th grade, Lexington High School), Mandy Meng (founder of Vinci), Chenyu Lin (teacher at Vinci) formed a volunteer group to help local special needs students learn robotics and STEAM.
Vinci volunteer group worked with Nashoba Learning Group, which is an ASD specialty school in Bedford, MA, to teach robotics to 2 of their students online. They really enjoyed the hands-on experience and activities. In March, Vinci is grateful for the support and funding provided by CEL (Community Endowment of Lexington) and ACMES (American Chinese Medical Exchange Association) to help us get more hardware and more teaching resources to help more students.
With the funding, Vinci hopes to help more ASD special needs students in the local community. Many ASD students have special gifts in math or spatial sense. They may find robotics and coding are good choices to learn and maybe to help them in their academic and future career.
On June 10, 2021, Vinci hosted an online seminar to talk about how current technologies and Robotics can help ASD students in STEAM. Vinci invited two guest speakers. They were Andrew Bannish and Dr. Xue-jun Kong.
Andrew Bannish is the product Manager at BrainCo, which is a cutting-edge neuroscience company founded from Harvard Innovation Lab and located in Somerville, MA. Andrew talked about how Brain-computer interface (BCI) technology can help ASD students practice emotion control and learn to focus in a better way.
In a series of neurofeedback training studies, BrainCo provides Social Function and attention Rehabilitation training System that is viable as a personalized therapeutic approach in ASD. BrainCo uses the Denver Model as a basis and uses face-to-face style to deliver ASD children's best practices.
The following guest speaker is Dr. Xue- Jun Kong—MD, who works at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, an attending physician, and Professor who is doing research on ASD.
Dr.Xue talked about the current status of ASD, and the reason caused the disease. From severe disability to superior ability, about 10% of autism are genius, while 1% in the general population Autism can bring individual strengths along with unique abilities. As for the ASD students' perspective, they need to accept study as soon as earlier. Systemic analysis and planning can help them in many areas, and studying STEAM can help them to become talented. There is also more and more new therapy which is using AI technology to treat ASD as well.
And then, Vinci robotics teacher, Bryan Wang, shared his teaching experience with two special ASD students from Nashoba Learning Group. Students learned the knowledge quicker and easier through hands-on work. Bryan is a senior student at Brandeis University. He grew up with an ASD brother. He talked about how his brother is very good at Math and showed talents in the 3D spatial areas, which is amazing.
Click the video below to view the full seminar
In the summer of 2021, Vinci starts a new session to provide the robotics program for special needs students, especially for ASD students. During the summer, Vinci got 2 special students from Lexington public schools and 4 student volunteers from Lexington to study robotics for 8 weeks. In September, the group grows to 4 special students and 8 volunteers.
Vinci is planning and designing the program for more special needs students. And Vinci hopes to work with the local community center and recreation department to provide free classes in Lexington and Burlington.
For more details about the program, please visit https://www.vincirobotics.org/forasd