‘Wired Wednesdays’ bring VCS students up to Scratch


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Florida Institute of Technology professor Dr. Anthony Smith volunteers his time to teach Viera Charter School third graders software and hardware interface applications.

Viera Voice Photo

Florida Institute of Technology faculty and students have deepened the connection with elementary-age students at Viera Charter School with Wired Wednesdays and Scratch computer programming.

The increased mentoring and instruction by the FIT volunteers fills a dual purse of reversing an alarming trend of lost technical skills among American children and also to rev up the Space Coast’s educational exception to this rule.

“Personally, I think that it is important to help students fall in love with education as early as possible. I want kids to know that computer engineering is a very rewarding and fun career path,” said FIT professor Dr. Carlos Otero, who with Dr. Anthony Smith created a unique Ardino-based program to expose third graders to numerous applications in hardware-software interface, in partnership with VCS third-grade teacher Kelly Otero.

Dr. Adrian Peter teaches the Scratch programming language to VCS students in first and second grade. Dr. Aldo Fabregas mentors students in fourth through sixth grade in software programming skills under the guise of interactive game development using Minecraft.  

The most recent assessment of numeracy and problem-solving skills released by the Education Testing Service shows that American millennials are tied for last among 22 industrialized countries. Finland received the top score in both categories. Disturbing statistics such as these lead to a future where America is no longer competitive in the global marketplace, Otero said.

FIT Computer Engineering student David Elliot has seen positive changes in education since he pressed his palms into wet cement with other students at Manatee Elementary school in its inaugural year.

“I have been living in Brevard for 15 years now, and as such have had the unique experience of seeing Viera grow to the thriving community it is today. I enjoyed an excellent education there. However, I never gained much experience with circuits or computer engineering until much later, which has changed my life, so imagine what it can do to give elementary students the chance to learn something that might impact them and our community forever.”

Other FIT student volunteers include Rana Haber, Eddy Ihou, Luke Moyou, Mark Moyou, Kaleb, Smith, Marco Rossi and Spencer Ferrini.   

In addition to possible future students, FIT faculty volunteers hope to gain a name for the region.

“I hope that the kids grow up to become part of our dynamic and thriving Space Coast engineering culture. I want them to become the future leaders of technology and innovation, and that they do so here in our own backyard,” Otero said. “In the same way that Silicon Valley is well-known for technology and innovation, I hope these kids help the Space Coast become the place where the next generation of innovators and engineers come to make their dreams
a reality.”

For more information, call VCS at 321-541-1434.