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Smart to the Core

STEM education has leveled up over the years so encouraging creativity and innovation may help your student be future-ready.

It is a whole new world out there. Gone are the days when “striking it rich” required a fancy degree, seed money, and the right connections. In 2022, you can bypass the traditional path to success and attain money and fame by playing videogames, by trading cryptocurrency, or by “going viral” on social media as an influencer and/or content creator. The real fortunes, though, are made in the underlying code used to create those videogames, apps, and social media platforms. There is just one catch: learning to code is easier said than done.  While the demand for programming proficiency may be high, the supply of quality coding courses has been underwhelming. 

Unfortunately, public schools are seldom able to meet this need due to budget constraints and a lack of skilled instructors. At best, such classes are only offered as electives at the high school level. “I grew up going to public school and during that time it was a great school district but when I went to college, I felt my school system didn’t prepare me enough for what we truly needed to know for our future careers,” laments Fazan Askari, co-owner of Smart Core Labs. In response, Smart Core Labs has created a curriculum of more than 25 courses carefully designed to instill the fundamentals of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) in students from kindergarten through early adulthood. 

An introduction to basics in STEAM helps children develop critical troubleshooting skills that they may not get exposed to otherwise. “Our purpose is to have this easily accessible to all children from a young age,” says Mr. Askari. It is not enough, however, to just watch or learn these concepts theoretically, practical application is key to discovering how the technology works and its importance in our daily lives. Smart Core Labs encourages students to think outside-the-books so as to improve social, motor, visual, emotional, and problem-solving skills. 

The courses focus on an array of modern competencies beyond text-based coding languages such as Python and Java. In courses called Scratch and Java Minecraft, for example, students can create their own customized games which introduces them to programming in a way that harnesses the fun of playing video games. Through this experience, students readily absorb the instructional education they are receiving because they can appreciate how these skills can be applied to a career in the real world. 

The early adoption of programming concepts allows a child to expand their understanding and interest in areas that would otherwise go untapped. The need for a technical education has not gone unnoticed and specialized schools have emerged as a result, but most are privately owned with high associated fees and overcrowded classes. Smart Core Labs breaks from this approach by capping class sizes at 15 so as to provide a more individualized learning experience. The personal nature of these settings comes with added benefits. “If a child needs to move ahead, we can definitely introduce them to a higher level or even change their area of focus if they are interested and see how it goes. This is easy to do because of our class sizes,” boasts Mr. Askari. 

Along with their after-school programs, Smart Core Labs has been coordinating with local school districts to develop a non-profit Smart Core Labs foundation which will provide in-school and after-school STEAM courses at no cost to local school districts. 

Visit the following site for a simple robotics project you can do at home using items you may already have laying around: https://www.smartcorelabs.com/blog  

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