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Biondi Elementary Robotics Program

Drones, Robots & Coding: A Special Education First in NYS!

In July, our Biondi School became the first special education school in New York State to introduce robotic, coding, and drone instruction to students. We see this as an opportunity to open a new career path for students, who quickly learned how to create their own computer games, robots, and drones!

Students who participated in the six-week program quickly mastered the material. “Hands-on STEM education fits the learning styles of many Biondi students,” explains Angela W. White, Ed.D., Biondi School Superintendent. “It is project-based learning, where students are presented with goals and challenges, and in the end, the students tie it together.”

Dr. White continues, “Typically, many of our students need to take a break during instruction. But in these classes they paid attention to every word.”

Generation Code provides the instruction

The Biondi School partnered with Generation Code, a nonprofit STEM instruction organization, to start up the pilot program at Rising Ground. Generation Code already brings its STEM curricula into public school classrooms. Happily, its instructors believed they could adapt their teaching style to meet students in need of intensive academic and emotional support.

“We took extra time to make sure students understood what they were doing,” explained Melisa Nozière, Generation Code’s Director of Partnerships & Program Management for the tristate region and Pennsylvania. “And, finally students were able to try it on their own.”

Both Ms. Nozière and Darc Boykin, the Generation Code engineering and robotics instructor, say they were impressed by Biondi’s approach in helping students learn. “The kids were very engaged in the content,” notes Mr. Doykin. “This is one of the more organized classes I’ve had.”

Ms. Nozière adds that she and the instructors learned something themselves. “We received training in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (a best-practices approach to deescalating potential student crises). That is a skill we can use in any school, in any classroom.”

Several New York television stations came to Biondi to report on the STEM program. You can watch the reports here