One of our team’s missions is to improve Alaskan youth literacy—which the University of Alaska has noted as being a common barricade for college-bound students. Alaska has an 11% illiteracy rate, and our team members believe we can help fix it.
Riley Robot Book Project: We are developing a set of children’s book about Riley Robot and his adventures in space for presentation to primary schools and family groups. It is our hope to use this project to show both the joys of robots and reading.
Feedback: We finished the first draft of the first book, Riley Robot and the Race in Space in Spring 2018. We are now in the process of receiving feedback from children, parents, teachers, and community members. We know that books follow a process not that different from the engineering process, and we may still go through many iterations before we have a quality product. We welcome as much feedback as possible as we continue to develop Riley Robot.
Book Themes: We have expanded the series to include books within three main themes: Math, Science, and Social Lessons. These books are available online for teachers and parents to read with their students, and our team also enjoys visiting classrooms and school groups to read the books aloud.
Language Translations: We have also learned that Alaska’s 20 Native Languages are endangered, and forecasted to go extinct by the end of the 21st century. The book is currently being translated by partner FTC teams into Yup’ik, Cup’ig, and Tlingit. In Hoonah, students are collaborating with elders to approve translations and create new words in the language for STEM concepts such as “Robot.” It’s important to us that encouraging STEM does not present as a contradiction to cultural values and languages.
Reading Rendezvous: Did you know that 60% of students lose school skills during the summer? The Anchorage Public Library has a mission to change that by encouraging youth participation in libraries over the summer. They kick this summer campaign off each year with the a massive fair-like celebration with the ZJ Loussac Library. Our team provides activities, access to our children’s book, and robot demos.
Barnes and Noble Events: We take advantage of as many Barnes and Noble events as possible, including read alouds and their annual Mini Maker Faire.