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Vinci Robotics Program for Special Needs Students Got CEL Funding

Community Endowment of Lexington (CEL) is a group of local Lexington residents from the CEL Community Board. These residents represent the different demographics of Lexington town and together raise funds for grantmaking in Lexington and decide on the most impactful grants for the local community. CEL awards grants to nonprofits and town agencies working in health and human services, arts and culture, the environment, and community building; provides ways for donors to give back and leave a legacy; and encourages innovative and collaborative solutions to issues facing Lexington, MA.

In 2021, CEL launched a grant from a collaboration of Autism Spectrum Disorder specialists from Nashoba Learning Group and MGH to structure a real-life project-based STEM curriculum's Vinci Robotics Academy. Vinci Robotics Academy provides students with a robotics and STEAM education environment to grow and refine students' problem-solving skills, team collaboration, and innovation spirits through a series of hands-on, interdisciplinary, and project-based programs. Which can enrich students' talent, build their confidence, and hopefully extend to more special needs schools. ASD is a rapidly growing neurodevelopment disorder. Some ASD youth have a unique talent in robotics and CS, but their social deficit & behavioral issues impact their route to success.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people. Still, people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn differently from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.

According to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST, 2010), STEM education is significant in solving global energy, health, environmental protection, and national security challenges. STEM education allows for developing a more capable and flexible workforce that can compete in a worldwide market.

The permeation of STEM in every aspect of daily life provides STEM content for ASD becomes necessary opportunities (Israel et al., 2013). STEM instruction helps students with ASD solve everyday problems and make decisions (National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council, 2009). STEM education involves the gaining of knowledge and skills and their application in authentic activities and contexts. Practice solving problems in the real world translates to using STEM knowledge and skills to solve problems encountered in life and work (Holmlund et al., 2018; Kelley & Knowles, 2016). Additionally, students participate in these activities as part of a group or team, and the social aspect becomes an integral component of the learning process. These communicative allow students to learn and collaborate with others as they solve authentic problems coordinated (Chen et al., 2019). Through STEM, individuals with ASD may become more fulfilled and productive citizens and be successful in the twenty-first century (National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council, 2002; National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council, 2009; Zollman, 2012). STEM knowledge and skills may help an individual with ASD to fix a piece of broken technology or appliance, streamline a process at their workplace, more efficiently complete mundane tasks, and collaborate with others.

The Vinci Robotics Academy provides professional personnel to work one-on-one with ASD students and provide the required equipment. Under the education of Vinci Robotics Academy professionals, Parents of ASD students will keep their children at the Vinci Robotics Academy and receive a better education. The Vinci Robotics Academy provides STEM education that allows ASD students to build and design their robots, expanding their independent thinking and hands-on skills. Accompanied by teachers, students can better learn to communicate with classmates and teachers and integrate into social activities.

The Vinci Robotics Academy is grateful to CEL for its sponsorship, which gives the Vinci Robotics Academy more sponsors to help ASD students. The Vinci Robotics Academy is a nonprofit organization; with support from CEL, Vinci Robots Academy can purchase more VEX Robotics equipment for students to create a better learning environment for the ASD population.


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