UGA, Chess & Community launch a new partnership

Program will support STEM education for Clarke County students

The University of Georgia and local nonprofit Chess & Community have launched a new partnership that uses robotics to improve STEM education opportunities for promising students in Clarke County.

Over the next three years, the university will provide financial aid and campus space to support Pawn Accelerator – a community-centered robotics and chess program that educates students in the fundamentals of technology and learning. innovation, developing the skills they will need for their future careers. in STEM fields, including robotics and engineering literacy.

“The Pawn Accelerator program helps Clarke County students develop a wide range of essential skills,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “This new partnership will further strengthen our relationship with our community partners in Athens-Clarke County and expand the impact of STEM education in our local community.”

“The next technological innovation to transform this community and the world might be buried in the mind of one of these children, but we’ll never know until we at least expose it to available resources,” Lemuel said. . “Life” LaRoche, Executive Director of Chess & Community, who piloted the program in fall 2020. “That’s what Pawn Accelerator does. It allows young people to interact with the latest technology and challenges them to reinvent the world.

The program has three progressive levels that ultimately promote design thinking and innovation. These levels are:

  • Level 1: Middle school students will unbox and build a robot alongside student animators. After building the robot, students will code the robot and prepare for the robotics competition. Chess & Community hosted the first robotics competition in fall 2020.
  • Level 2: Students will take their project to the next level by using a 3D printer and learning to recode the robot for new features and actions. Drone technology will also be introduced.
  • Level 3: This stage focuses on Design Thinking and innovation. With the knowledge they have gained, some rising 9th and 10th graders will participate in Innovate U, a week-long summer residential program for high school students in the Clarke County School District.

As part of this partnership, the university will make spaces dedicated to innovation available to students, such as the new innovation hub and Studio 225, home of the UGA entrepreneurship program.

Founded in Athens, Chess & Community is dedicated to empowering young leaders in Northeast Georgia. It provides real-world insights through positive youth engagement in critical thinking, civic engagement, peer learning, and cultural experiences.

The new initiative joins nearly 50 existing UGA programs and partnerships launched in recent years that support the Clarke County School District. Others include:

  • Cultivate it, know it – an innovative year-round program that helps middle school students, school staff, university partners and community members learn about poverty, food insecurity and environmental sustainability through school gardens, hands-on educational activities and workforce development initiatives. Jointly funded by the school district and UGA, the program has raised more than $15,000 through school gardens, community grants and private donations.
  • Georgia possible – a collaborative program between Clarke County Schools and UGA that prepares students for post-secondary education and career decisions by providing participants with tools and resources on career exploration, self-awareness, soft skills development and leadership. Students in the three-year pilot program complete team-building exercises, participate in a mentorship program, attend workshops on job skills and the college application process, take the PSAT, meet with experts from industry and learn about financial planning, emotional intelligence and conflict management. .
  • Equip 4 College – UGA is home to Gear Up 4 College for eighth graders in the Clarke County School District. The program focuses on dual-enrollment classes, scholarships, the college application process, and other difficult topics students will encounter throughout high school and as they begin to make career choices. post-secondary education and careers. Students attend 15 events throughout the year on the UGA campus, where they receive information on writing application essays, courses to consider in high school, and what it means to attend a public school , private or technical.

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