Where to begin? So much has happened over the last eight weeks that it seems like much longer since we last checked in.The successful completion of our summer conferences, the recruitment of new student ambassadors, and the planning of new innovative programs has kept WCTD very busy, while promising great things for the future. Each day WCTD makes new partnerships, new relationships, and meets more and more students that want to know what their future is going to look like. We have a very busy few months ahead of us, but lets take a look at the past few months first. 

The most exciting parts of the summer have without a doubt been the summer student conferences, CreatingSTEAM and CreatingIDEAS. Both programs, delivered at NYIT Old Westbury, were a resounding success. Students from all over Long Island and the greater tri-state area gathered for three weeks of experiential learning, technology education, and training in life and career skills that will serve them well into the future.  

CreatingSTEAM, our two-week program, brought in students from around central Long Island, and as far off as Jersey and lower Brooklyn, all of whom eagerly jumped on the opportunity to participate in projects like programming a humanoid robot, developing websites, writing mobile apps, building a PC, mind-mapping, and collaboration in a team environment. At first students seemed a little unsure of themselves and working with total strangers, but after two weeks of working through the challenges put in front of them students returned with some fascinating finished projects and a new group of friends and colleagues. The challenge put before students was to create a mock-business, brand it, and give it a presence on the web, while using technologies such as 3D printing, coding, and software tools to show the world that their team's robotics project could benefit the world at large. Students returned with concepts like a robot that protected people in crowded spaces from potential attackers, a robot that could be an entertaining companion to sick children, a fitness robot that taught Zumba, and a robotics company that could provide a humanoid workforce to care for animals injured in oil spills, just to name a few. The creativity and enthusiasm with which students tackled issues both large and small was a fine example of what students can accomplish when given proper tools, the right training, and a goal. WCTD was proud to see all the hard work of our students pay off in such a rewarding way, in addition to the lasting relationships students formed as a result of working together. Some students claimed to leave the program having not only a clearer sense of what they might want to study and work on in the future, but a greater self confidence in their abilities, as well. CreatingSTEAM served to inspire the natural talents of students on both an individual and collective level, and to see each student discover their abilities and apply them for their group was a proud moment for the WCTD Conference Team.

CreatingIDEAS, too, was a huge success for students interested in PC gaming. Students began the week by meeting their teams and jumping right into a group project: building a high power gaming computer! The machines were little more than a scattering of parts when they began, but after only 6 hours worth of project time, each team had a computer that could not only handle the burden of processing large amounts of data and video, but could handle their designs and coding concepts with relative ease. Keep in mind that most of the students present at the event had never built a computer from parts, or even seen it done. The remainder of the week was spent learning tools like Unity3D, Audacity, Paint.net, and a few others, and then leveraging those tools to create an original concept video game that incorporated a teaching function for users. We also heard from industry experts Dave Voyles and James Quick, who gave students a few tutorials and some valuable advice on not only how to build a successful game, but what the future of the gaming industry would look like for students interested in a career in gaming, and how to go about getting one. When students had enough instruction and guidance they got right to work, churning out some very impressive concepts that were not only fun but served a useful purpose to mankind. For example, one team created a game using the concept of logic gates to teach users about simple logic equations in programming, while another group developed a game that taught users healthy eating habits, while another group developed a game concept that could teach people how to accomplish DIY projects around the house. Students were given plenty of creative license and freedom to explore their ideas, and each team came up with a totally unique concept as a result. On the final day, parents came in to see their students present the finished products of their collective hard work, and the award ceremony for categories like "Best Game" and "Most Collaborative Team". After a week's worth of hard work it was great reward to see the students have so much fun and to have learned so much from the program.

With only a few weeks left to go until the summer comes to an end, WCTD has gone into regrouping and planning mode to develop our programs that will be delivered this fall. Thought it is a little too early for the big reveal, WCTD is planning some exciting events, including a 48-Hour Hack-a-Thon to teach students HTML 5, another Discovery Day at Microsoft in Manhattan, and a few other events that will allow WCTD to extend their reach to more nations around the globe in need of STEAM Education.

Want to know how you can help? Well that's the easy part. Currently we are participating in a promotion being held by Microsoft to award $500K to a global nonprofit that gets the most likes on social media channels. We need the support of everyone in our network to make this happen, and all it takes is a few moments each day to cast your vote. You can vote once a day on all three platforms by following these simple instructions: 

 Instagram: Copy and paste the following message into Instagram when you    share a public photo: I want to #vote for nonprofit @wctd  #upgradeyourworld

Twitter: Simply copy and paste the following message into Twitter: I want to #vote for nonprofit @wctds #upgradeyourworld

Facebook: 1) Go to the Windows Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/windows 2) Copy this line of text: I #vote for @we connect the dots to#upgradeyourworld 3)Paste the text into the post at the top of the Windows Facebook page and submit. 4) Do this once a day!

Please share this with as many people as you can, and thanks for your support!

We owe all of our volunteers and our student ambassadors a huge thanks for helping us get through the last few weeks with such great success. And thanks to everyone for reading and taking part in our social media initiative. Please keep spreading the word helping us bring STEAM Education to the students that need it most.

AuthorLaurie Carey