YTLC has been operating for 7+ years. The founding owners Jewel Ausberry and Katrina Garlow founded the company to bring STEM/STEAM education to children.
Take a technology leap of faith like I did!
By Jewel Ausberry, Pitsco Education TAG Member
It seems like only yesterday that cutting-edge technology for me was the electric typewriter, and the coolest video game was Pong by Atari. Technology has grown leaps and bounds since then, and I have grown as a techie enthusiast as well. JR“Techie enthusiast” is said with a wink and a nod because although I wear many hats, engineering is not one of them, and I am writing this article from the perspective of a nonprofessional technology teacher. I know you are asking, “What does that mean?” Well, I am a teaching professional for elementary education, Grades K-8. I served as a homeroom teacher for language arts and fine arts for a number of years I will not reveal to conceal this lady’s age, although I think I pretty well gave that away with the mention of the Atari game. I entered the techie world just five years ago when I took a part-time job teaching elementary engineering classes in after-school programs in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. I must admit that I was very reluctant and hesitant in taking this position for the aforementioned reason that I wore many hats and engineering was not one of them.
I was not trying to take on that daunting challenge, but it was explained that I would be teaching elementary engineering classes utilizing LEGO® Education kits and that they needed a teaching professional with classroom management skills versus engineering knowledge, as they could easily train me on what I needed to know. I was still skeptical, as I could not even remember playing with LEGOs as a youngster. I ended up learning through play the same way the children did. In addition, I watched many videos overflowing with info, but that gave me extensive knowledge, which I later tailored to my own fashion in the classroom.
I quickly became voracious in my pursuit of robotics technology that would keep challenging my students to further their learning experience. I had far surpassed what I once considered daunting, and now I had just as much fun building and learning as my students did. I prepped for my classes by building awesome robots!
I continuously pushed to take our classes to the next level, and I pushed my way right out the door. I saw there was a definitive need for these types of classes and began working full-time for an owner of a technology center who shared my vision. Eventually, I partnered with an associate who brought graphics programs to the table such as Video Game Programming Creation and Movie Making classes that led to the creation in 2010 of our company, Youth Technology Learning Center (YTLC), which is a creative STEM technology after-school enrichment center. Utilizing STEM in a classroom gives children the opportunity to learn through cutting-edge technology and try, firsthand, classes that can inspire their interests in a lucrative profession. I coach FIRST® LEGO League, and some of my early team members are now being offered internships at major companies such as Siemens. It’s reached the point where my students are more expert than I, and many have surpassed me. A teacher does not have to be an expert in robotics or engineering to present these classes to students. We merely serve as guides on the technology path.
I had the honor of being asked to be a TAG (Teacher Advisory Group) member for Pitsco Education this year, where we work with Pitsco to further the integration of STEM technology into all aspects of learning for children of all ages. Pitsco is taking a major step forward in offering workshops for teachers called Pitsco STEM PD (professional development), which empowers teachers and helps educators incorporate hands-on activities.
I am excited about the new TETRIX® PRIME Building System for robotics, the 3-D printing curriculum, and the myDAQ miniSystems. PRIME is truly intriguing with its simplicity and basic sensors and the fact that PRIME robots can be remote controlled or autonomous through the use of simple icon-based software. It is truly awesome to do something I love and get to play with these awesome techie gadgets while inspiring kids for generations! Remember that you can do it, too, even if you have little to no experience.
Just take that technology leap of faith!