What began as a pilot summer camp for 50 students has grown into a year-round academy for more than 750 Aurora youth.
The City of Aurora will launch its new Aurora STEAM Academy next month, where students in first through sixth grades will have a unique opportunity to explore the interconnections of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math in a co-curricular after-school environment.
The Aurora City Council approved an agreement with TinkRworks, a K-8 STEAM education provider focused on transforming learners into innovators, to provide the curriculum, hands-on learning materials, and staff training.
“We consider it a privilege to partner and serve the youth of Aurora,” said Anu Mahajan, President and CEO of TinkRworks. “We guarantee the community that our team will stand with you to make sure all children get the maximum benefit from this unprecedented endeavor.”
The City’s IT Department will further support the initiative by providing tech equipment and high-speed internet to six learning centers throughout the community, including the APS Institute, Main Baptist Church, Eastwood Community Center, Randall West Community Center, Sacred Heart Church, and the ARM Mobile Tech Center.
“We wanted to find a way to bridge the gap in technology and expand it into a year-round interactive and innovative approach to community-based learning,” said Aurora Chief Information Officer Michael Pegues. “I personally understand the impact of not being exposed to these types of opportunities as a child, which motivated me to help change the narrative for future generations.”
The Academy will operate in four sessions this calendar year, with classes for Winter Session in February and March; Spring Session in April and May; Summer Session from June through August; and Fall Session from September through December.
Each session, which will commence with a virtual open house and conclude with a virtual recognition ceremony, will provide two interactive STEAM courses.
In the Art Alive course, students in first through third grades will learn how to code their own electric art. Students will customize a wooden facade and attach electronics to make it light up, play different sounds and movements. The Rover Bot course will provide students in fourth through sixth grades with an in-depth learning experience about motors, sensors, LEDs, and Arduino minicomputers by developing a fully-functional customized robot.
“We are excited about the expansion from our pilot summer camp into an academy for our youth,” said City Youth Services Manager Simon Rodriguez. “What they will learn and experience can lead them into a future career path in the STEAM fields.”
The application portal for the STEAM Academy Winter Session will open on Monday, February 1 at 6 p.m. Classes begin February 15.
The application portal for the Spring, Summer, and Fall Sessions will open two weeks prior to the start of each respective session.
Visit www.aurora-il.org/STEAMACADEMY to learn more and to apply.