By Alan Fleck | DFW Newsflash | June 2018
During the fifth annual Dallas City of Learning Turn Up! at the Frontiers of Flight Museum located near Dallas Love Field, attendees were challenged to activate their minds, especially on STEM topics.
Dallas City of Learning is a public-private citywide partnership between the City of Dallas and Dallas ISD, managed by Big Thought, to ensure all students have access to summer learning opportunities that stem summer learning loss.
“It is important that students’ minds continue to be stimulated during the summer, otherwise some of their knowledge may be lost,” Guy Bruggeman, art and programming coordinator, department of aviation for Dallas Love Field, said. “The Big Thought City of Learning event allows various participating companies and vendors to give back to the community. This year’s event includes more booths for the attendees to visit than ever before.”
Booths included arts and crafts for the kids, stormwater management, Southwest Airlines, Mobile Technical Experience (included a 33 foot converted RV and Robots), Furstenberg General Contractors for Commercial construction, Voly.org (representing 3,000 agencies seeking volunteers), Dallas Love Field, and many others.
As each attendee entered the event, they were provided with a card reflecting the various booths. While visiting a booth and learning, the attendee received a sticker. Once seven stickers were obtained, the attendee was eligible for swag items at the front desk, including water bottles and City of Learning Dallas t-shirts.
At the arts and crafts table, the kids made paper airplanes that could then be placed in a wind tunnel.
“Some of these kids have never been exposed to this stuff before. We get to see the kids light up,” booth monitors Rosie Amezquita and Judith Juarez from Young Women’s Leadership School said.
At the stormwater management booth, Samuel Rodriguez, who has worked for the City of Dallas for six years, explained his department is responsible for water quality assessment and inlet maintenance, among other things. His department backtracks to find the origin of any foreign material in stormwater to find out who is responsible. If there is anything besides stormwater, there can be a $2,000 per day fine levied.
During the event, Rodriguez spoke about ‘For the Love of the Lake,’ a program which takes place on the second Saturday of each month at White Rock Lake Park. Volunteers are provided bags and gloves to assist with cleanup.
Karim Vivani, manager of Big Thought’s Mobile Tech Experience (MTE), described their presentation as consisting of a 33 foot converted RV containing computers, 3D modeling and printing, and Robot design and construction kits.
“The RV travels to cover the entire greater Dallas area and brings the robotics to understand neighborhoods to demonstrate these kinds of careers are not excluded from these areas,” Vivani said. “Middle school kids are our primary focus. This is when they learn they may not become the next astronaut, but they can become the programmer or builder of robots and other devices.”
Inside the RV, students were using 3D printers to print keychains they had designed.
Outside the RV, Abhijit Bhattaru, a helper on the Mobile Tech Experience, demonstrated a robot that made use of an Android telephone and a PlayStation-type controller to receive its instructions. The robot has gone to the world championships.
Voly.org had a booth to provide information about its website containing information representing over 3,000 volunteer agencies. Agencies post on the website what they need volunteers for, and then volunteers indicate their zip codes, and sign up to help. Some of the agencies involved include Dallas schools and Ft. Worth schools as well as the city of Dallas.
Branden Williams, Executive Director of the ‘Seats to STEM’ program, stated their organization has summer camps in Pleasant Grove and on the campus of Paul Quinn University. The goal is to use subtle methods to continue to educate while students are away from regular school and to teach lab safety as well.
Some of the young attendees expressed their approval of the event.
“It was a really good event. I liked learning about robotics,” David Valdeoiar (7) who lives very close to Love Field, said.
“My three year old son loves to see how things work,” Deslyn Norris, from Frisco, brought many of her ‘mommy-friends’ and their kids.