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  • Design ThinkingAfter serving more than 3,000 students in our first year, the Thinkabit Lab is off and running in year two with a goal of welcoming 5,000 middle school students and teachers to Qualcomm’s dedicated student makerspace. Having taught 19 classes and more than 550 students to start this second year, the team is poised to meet its goals and extend the mission of providing students with exposure to the world of work and having a hands-on experience with engineering.

In this second year the team is also trialing several new elements to provide more access for students and teachers. The greatest challenge for Thinkabit is scaling to meet the demand. The lab is completely booked for the current school year. These new concepts are intended to provide greater reach. Here are four concepts the team is working on.

1.Teaching in the field: Last school year two High Tech High seniors taught our engineering curriculum(See June 16th Experienships blog entry) to a class of 8th grade students. WOW! This experience inspired us to expand our partnership with High Tech High to integrate more high school seniors interested in engineering and teaching. The goal is for students to venture out to partner schools to help teach our curriculum and expand the reach of Thinkabit Lab. Equally as important, this experience provides practical, hands-on exposure and service opportunities to the high school seniors and may even inspire students to become future engineering teachers. Trials are currently under way.

2.PD in the lab: The lab is set up to serve in-tact classes visiting from middle schools. This means our largest classes reach 35 students. However, the lab has a capacity to serve 40 students. These extra 5 spots will be reserved for visiting teachers from other schools that are eager to learn about Qualcomm, the world of work, software/hardware engineering, Arduino and the Thinkabit program we are teaching. Currently we have three school participating in our trial. School leaders that are interested can email the contact page to explore an opportunity to attend. We will do everything we can to accommodate requests.

3.UCSD STEAM Channel: The team is working with UCSD TV to produce multiple segments of the Thinkabit Lab experience. Through these segments viewers can experience classroom video of the world of work, coding a blinking LED, building a human circuit and our version of robot building called robocrafting. These videos will serve as a “how to” segments so any class anywhere can replicate the experience. Video production is currently under way.

4.NEW Labs: Scaling an on-site experience for every middle school student in San Diego is impossible for a single company. The way to make a broader impact is to have other companies get in the game. Students need relevance as part of their education. Having the chance for students to get on-site at companies is the best way for students to aspire to a career they didn’t know existed. We are excited to be exploring the lab concept with several businesses to help them consider developing their own programs. Some are expected to launch in 2016. If your business is interested in getting involved, please reach out to us via our contact page on our website.

Those are just some of our focus areas for this coming year. Stay tuned for more updates here at the Thinkabit blog or on our Twitter and Instagram sites: @Thinkabit_Lab

Let us know what you’d like to hear about. Or ideas you may have.

-The Thinkabit Team