One solution for food deserts?
Send a drone in to drop off food, says 12-year-old Braylon Holden.
Braylon and a group of his peers came up with the idea as a possible answer to a problem that faces the Peninsula area as part of a project during a three-week camp at Hampton University.
Braylon, who attends Booker T. Washington Middle School in Newport News, is one of 78 students from local middle schools participating in Verizon Innovative Learning program this summer.
This is the second round of funding that HU has received for the science, technology, engineering and math-based program since it started in 2016.
It’s designed to target minority male students at schools that have a high rate of free or reduced lunch participants.
Students take four core classes each day: design thinking, 3D modeling and 3D printing, electronics and circuits, and virtual reality and augmented reality.
“This is not just technology that we’re already using,” said HU assistant professor Otsebele Nare, who serves as the program director. “It’s emerging technology about the future, what is coming, what technology we’ll be using in the future, that’s what the kids are learning about. So getting those skills, being ready and realizing yes, I need math, yes I need English, writing and reading in order for me to be successful.”
On Wednesday, one class worked on pairing a mini circuit kit with cardboard to create a robotic arm. In another lab, students worked on 3D modeling a basketball court to see how much they’d learned since they did the task earlier when camp first started.
Teacher Chandra Oaks-Garcia, who teaches at Andrews PreK-8 School in Hampton during the year, answered a few questions, but encouraged students to find solutions on their own.
Seeing their students in this setting, said Jonathan Sims, a teacher at Huntington Middle School, has been encouraging.
“The first day I told them we’re going to treat this like we’re in college,” Sims said. “I see some of them maturing a bit, to have that experience in a different environment like a college classroom setting, they really enjoy that.
“They also got to speak with some people who are in charge of different branches for Verizon. They got that opportunity to see how high they can go with either Verizon or STEM. It’s nice to hear them say, ‘This is what I want to do for a living.’”