Middle school students, who are mentored by City Year San Jose AmeriCorps members, recently learned about ASIMO, the world’s most advanced humanoid robot. ASIMO was created by Honda, a City Year San Jose partner through the American Honda Foundation, and excels at getting kids excited about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In addition to introducing the students to ASIMO, Honda spoke to the middle school students during their visit to the Honda Silicon Valley Lab about achieving their dreams and taking advantage of the opportunities in front of them. "Put the work in and go for it. There’s nothing that you can’t do. Don't be afraid to dream big," Erik Wedin of Corporate Relations for American Honda said. Watch the video and read on to hear what it was like for Daisy Magaña, a City Year San Jose AmeriCorps Alumna, ‘17, to see her students’ eyes light up at the sight of what can be achieved in the world of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics).
By: Daisy Magaña, City Year San Jose AmeriCorps Alumna, ‘17
One of the things I am consistently asked by students is, “Ms. Daisy, why do we do STEAM?” At City Year San Jose, we dedicate an hour to teaching STEAM curriculum daily in our afterschool program to deepen our students interest and knowledge in these industries.
I tell my students, “we teach STEAM because people of color are highly under-represented in the tech world. We live in a tech-rich world that will be the jobs of tomorrow, and you as the future of this country need to represent and show the world that we as colored people can also work in the tech world and be successful.”
I have the most difficulty getting our students interested in the technology aspect of STEAM. Our curriculum utilizes coding as a way to further teach technology. My students always complain saying, “Coding is boring, can we do something else?” I respond with, “What would you like to do?” They tell me, “I don’t know Ms. Daisy. Can we take apart computers and put them back together?”
When the opportunity to be able to visit the Honda Silicon Valley Lab was presented to my class, I was elated. I thought, this is great that the students will get to see what working in the tech world can look like, and how coding is just a small step in that direction.
The students were amazed that these amazing products were being conceptualized and produced right in their community's backyard. I heard sounds of amazement when ASIMO was presented and saw radiant smiles come across all my students’ faces. Students who are normally disengaged in our STEAM lessons where intrigued by and engrossed in what the speakers were saying and what ASIMO could accomplish. Students asked questions like, "How can he do that?," "What else can he do?," "Can he run? If so, how fast?," and "When and where can I get one?"
Hands shot into the air when they were asked who wanted to test ride the UNI-CUBs, Honda’s personal mobility device. Three at a time, they all took turns riding the UNI-CUBs. Some were more successful than others, but they all helped each other when they saw each other struggling. When we finally got back to the classroom, students said, “Those are the types of things we want to work on—robots.”
I think about why I serve, and moments like these are what bring me back every day. To know that events and experiences that we bring to our students through our partners, such as Honda Silicon Valley, can ignite something within a child that will make them work hard and believe in themselves, is remarkable.
I don’t come from money. I am a Bay Area native coming from East Palo Alto, a similar community as east side San Jose, and I am glad that these students have opportunities given to them and that there are people who advocate for them and their abilities. I witness our students’ intelligence and resilience everyday. I know that with the support and opportunities that City Year and partners like Honda provide, the students of East Side San Jose will be successful.