Miami EdTech, Riders.ai, Infento and Venture Miami collaborate to bring robotics, computer programming and STEM to student learning
By Krysten Brenlla
In the 21st century, students find the answers they need with just a swift click of a button. However, as technology continues to grow within the workforce, students need training and skills to reach the next level.
Luckily, in South Florida, educators and community partners are working to ensure that both students and teachers are equipped with the necessary skills to meet the technological needs of our workforce and communities, while seamlessly transitioning into the 22nd century.
Miami EdTech, a registered 501©(3) education technology non-profit organization, is working hand-in-hand with Miami Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS), private schools, charter schools, and community partners to address the biggest challenges our South Florida community faces through innovation and technology.
Through their programming, Miami EdTech provides teachers with engaging professional development opportunities in Computer Science and Entrepreneurship, while providing technology support that teachers need to thrive, and help students thrive, in our new ecosystem. Additionally, the nonprofit is also developing curriculum and tech-enabled learning environments, and supports edtech through mentorship and internship programs.
“We’re really focused on closing the digital divide through computer science advocacy and training,” said Carlos Vazquez, executive director and founder of Miami EdTech. “Less than one percent of teachers in Florida are certified to teach science. Through our work at Miami EdTech, we’re meeting teachers where they are, and we’re advocating for students to ensure that the bridge between education and the workforce is strong and steady.”
In order to provide the opportunities for both students and teachers alike, Miami EdTech has collaborated with Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ Department of Career and Technical Education, which enhances education through work-based learning for the 16 career clusters identified by the U.S. Department of Education.
“Through the Department of Career and Technical Education, we want to be in touch with what’s happening in the community and the business world, so that our kids are prepared when they graduate,” said Lupe Diaz, executive director for MDCPS’ department of career and technical education. “Through our collaboration with Miami EdTech and other local organizations, we’re paving the way for a future where STEM and Career and Technical Education intersect, equipping our students to become the trailblazers, creative thinkers, and industry leaders of tomorrow.”
Through MDCPS’ Department of Career and Technical Education, Dr. Diaz and her team are working hand-in-hand with community partners and businesses, like Miami EdTech, to bring the real world into the classroom. Throughout the summer, kids participate in the department’s Summer Youth Internship Program, where they match students with participating employers, organizations, and businesses across Miami-Dade to learn the industry and work.
The department has also worked to integrate new programs within Miami-Dade’s public elementary and middle schools, like robotics and computer software programming (kids are learning software programs like Maya, UNITY, and Python, for example), to help facilitate creative thinking and problem solving in STEM at a young age.
“Our goal is to ensure that we keep talent here in Miami,” Dr. Diaz said. “That’s why students need to see these opportunities from the ground up, and establish relationships with local organizations and entrepreneurs while they’re in school.”
In addition to these collaborations, the City of Miami is also prioritizing elevating STEM education in local public schools.
In a recent press release, Venture Miami, an office within the City of Miami, announced its latest partnership with Miami EdTech and Riders.ai, a virtual robotics and coding competition platform, to elevate STEM education in Miami’s public schools while “fostering critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity among students, equipping them for the challenges and opportunities of the future.”
Max Ringelheim, the US general manager for education and technology companies based overseas and the director of operations for Riders.ai, is working hand-in-hand with organizations like Miami EdTech, Venture Miami, and MDCPS to bring programming from Riders.ai, and Infento, a program that teaches students how to build life-size electric vehicles.
“It’s extremely important that younger students in middle and high school understand that they’re able to gravitate and acquire relevant skills that can transfer to the workplace sooner rather than later,” Ringelheim said. “By giving them these opportunities to learn advanced skills, like creating electric vehicles or programming advanced robots, we create a powerful bridge to connect students with.”
When asked what the community needs to do to continue pushing students toward innovation in STEM, all three professionals mentioned one thing – getting involved.
“The community wants to get involved, but they don’t know how. We try to make it easier to get involved,” said Vazquez. “We really encourage local entrepreneurs and organizations to connect with students and teachers. Come to our Hackathons, hire a student intern, or participate in our student/industry conference – a mini eMerge America’s – in April. Through Max’s work with global companies, Dr. Diaz’s work with public schools, and through the support of the City of Miami, the community coming together can be that bridge between students and the workforce.”
For more information and programming on MiamiEdTech, visit their website at https://miamiedtech.com/.
For more information on Riders.ai and Infento, or for details on how to get involved with upcoming events and programs, visit: https://riders.ai/en/riders-robotics-league and https://www.infento.com/secondary-schools/.
For more information on getting involved with the Summer Youth Internship Program, or MDCPS’ Department of Career and Technical Education, visit: https://dcte.dadeschools.net/#!/rightColumn/2767.
READ MORE ECOSYSTEM NEWS IN REFRESH MIAMI:
- Federal government designates South Florida as one of 31 Tech Hubs, with focus on climate
- Cheers to 10 years for Endeavor Miami: A look back and ahead
- 5 questions with the director of FIU’s Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences
- Perla’s pathway to tech career lined with personal perseverance and MDC’s support
- Who needs sleep when we’re celebrating tech and art? Here’s 10 #TechBasel events to check out - November 30, 2023
- MDCPS student ecosystem grows in STEM education, thanks to help from local organizations - October 24, 2023
- Venture Miami gears up for a tech-filled fall with new events, workshops, and more - October 5, 2023