California's schools are being squeezed on all sides, thanks to large class sizes, fewer resources, standardized test requirements and the state's debt. Bay Area schools rely increasingly upon The Tech Museum of Innovation's educational outreach programs to fill an important gap in science and technology education by promoting technological literacy among students, teachers, and community groups, including several which assist under-served populations.
During these tough economic times, The Tech is banking on Silicon Valley's spirit of generosity and can-do attitude to rally in support of today's students. The Tech's upcoming Gizmo WYSIWYG Auction Gala on May 9th, fuels a significant portion of the museum's educational outreach exhibits and programs. These are critical to the success of students such as those at McKinley Institute of Technology in Redwood City, Hoover Middle School in San Jose, and the Third Street Community Center in downtown San Jose.
Impact to Students
Third Street Community Center teaches The Tech's hands-on design challenge curricula to students and subsidizes trips to the museum. All students were ranked in lowest 25th percentile on state standardized tests two years ago when they came to Third Street. Once shy, withdrawn students without much interest in school, all now test at or above grade level in reading and math, are gregarious, and more self-confident. One child is in the 99th percentile in math. Several are interested in technology careers.
Hoover Middle School uses The Tech's curricula in the engineering and robotics classes to teach students how to approach real-world technology problems. Student-centered, hands-on projects teach the kids what textbooks and lectures cannot. The emphasis is on discovery and developing critical thinking, not on "wrong and right answers". The teacher of these classes has calculated that her 6th and 7th grade students' standardized state test scores in math and science rose 12 points over their 5th grade scores.
McKinley Institute of Technology is a magnet school with a large, low-income population comprising many ESL, special needs, and at-risk students. Several teachers leverage The Tech's science and technology curricula to teach language arts, history, and literature. Students are so jazzed by the "design challenges" that they can't wait to get to school. The students, who come from a variety of backgrounds, are learning tolerance and teamwork, and gaining self-confidence by discovering how to solve problems.
The annual Gizmo party is a zany, one-of-of-a-kind evening of fun where Silicon Valley's movers-and-shakers gather to bid on everything from Bell Lab notebooks (the original engineering notebooks) to trips to the Arecibo Observatory (where Contact was filmed) to search for ET. This year's event, "Med Tech Madness That Will Keep You in Stitches" reflects The Tech's exhibit theme this year of "Life and Health." Gizmo partygoers will dress up like doctors, patients, and mad scientists. While they engage in silliness such as gurney and Segway rides, and participate in lab rat races and a giant game of Operation, they'll be helping children throughout the Bay Area open new windows on their worlds.