Browne School Students Learn To Program Robots at Microsoft Thanks to Grant from All Points North Foundation

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This semester, our students traveled to the Microsoft offices in Cambridge, MA, every Thursday to take part in the ‘Robotics with Microsoft’ apprenticeship. The students programmed their own robots alongside Microsoft engineers and programmers. They learned about sensor technology and fundamental coding skills. The students worked in teams and came up with solutions through their own design ideas. This experience highlighted two important 21st century skills--that innovation is tied to collaboration. This apprenticeship was possible thanks to a $60,000, one-year grant from All Points North Foundation (APNF), a small, private foundation based in Boston. This grant will serve the entire 7th grade at the Joseph Browne Middle School in Chelsea, Massachusetts during the 2016-2017 school year.

“STEM innovation inspires learning, helps prepare students for a future in higher education, and introduces them to dynamic careers they might not have previously thought about,” said Laura Staich, Executive Director at APNF.

Here’s a look at other ways this grant has made an impact at the Browne School:

  • Delivered 14 apprenticeships to our 7th graders this fall—8 of which were in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
  • Students worked with volunteers from Massachusetts General Hospital, BNY Mellon and the Boston Society of Civil Engineers, among others to complete hands-on projects on topics including 3D printing, game theory, social entrepreneurship, and civil engineering.
  • Apprenticeships focused on 21st century skill development and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). Citizen Schools’ programming reflects our belief that student success rests on much more than cognitive skills.
  • 78% of 7th grade students at the Browne demonstrated mastery of the 21st century skills targeted in their apprenticeships, exceeding a 70% goal.

Currently, Citizen Schools serves over 600 students in grades 5 through 8, including all 141 students in the 7th grade at the Browne School. These students face a unique set of challenges:

  • 88% of students are from low-income families.
  • Over 80% of students speak a language other than English at home.
  • The average household income level and education attainment rate are below state average.
  • The high school dropout rate is triple the state average (6.5% in Chelsea vs. 2.2% statewide).
  • Chelsea is home to a large migrant population that moves frequently between cities in the area.