The Connecticut Science Center in Hartford, Connecticut introduced a new youth development program last summer called Teen Robotics. The program provides hands-on experience with math, science, and technology concepts and principals and is open to high school students ages 16-18, as this is a very important time for determining future career paths. Teen Robotics is a six-week paid internship program during which the participants facilitate public programs for visitors using robotics projects they have designed. Interns work as a team to program various robot models and design activities to engage museum visitors.
Last year, twelve students participated in the Teen Robotics program. By interacting with science center visitors, the teens provide positive role models to younger students interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Having the opportunity to present their own robots was a great motivator for the Teen Robotics interns as well. By the end of the program, the interns realized that the visitors themselves create layers of the museum experience, and noticed the differences in visitor experiences by age, gender, and various parent-child dynamics. All of these factors were used in the process of developing, pilot testing, and launching the floor programs the team of interns had developed. The teens also highlight their programs during the year by working with the public in the exhibit galleries.
Based on last year’s success, the Connecticut Science Center is trying to expand the Teen Robotics program to middle school students, as well as expand the program to engage teens in other STEM fields beyond robotics.
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