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AC robotics

American Canyon students competed at the UC Davis Roboplay competition last year. NapaLearns intends to use new grant funding to further support the math and coding program being implemented at Napa and American Canyon schools. 

NapaLearns has received a grant from the Napa Valley Community Foundation to further support math and robotics curriculum for middle and high school students.

One of 14 grant recipients, NapaLearns was awarded $5,000 from NVCF, plus another $2,500 from an anonymous donor, that will bolster student math performance through the implementation of the UC Davis C-STEM program incorporating robotics and coding into middle school and high school algebra and geometry courses.

In 2017, NapaLearns invested more than $155,000 in the expansion of the C-STEM program into schools in Napa County. With the help of the NVCF award and other donations, it plans to invest that amount again this year.

The C-STEM program, covering computers, science, technology, engineering and math, is in the middle of a three-year pilot study that includes nine teachers from six schools in Napa Valley Unified School District.

“Our students need an alternative to traditional math programs, which up to now haven’t been able to adequately prepare them,” said Peg Maddocks, executive director of NapaLearns.

“C-STEM, or math with coding and robotics, provides students with a more engaging, hands-on approach that makes math more practical and relevant,” she said. “In addition to improving their math skills, these students are being prepared for future careers in coding and robotics, at a time when jobs in these fields are growing faster than the job market overall.”

Teachers using the program saw “impressive growth” in math achievement among students, according to a NapaLearns press release. In the 2017-2018 school year, 94 percent of students in two classrooms where the pilot was taught were performing at or above grade level, compared to a California statewide average of 38 percent of students meeting or exceeding math standards in the same year.

“We are encouraged by the math performance results that we are seeing in our pilot classrooms so far,” said NVUSD Superintendent Rosanna Mucetti. “While not every job requires coding skills, learning to code helps students to develop problem-solving skills and to think logically and creatively. The C-STEM program holds great promise and we’re looking forward to more positive outcomes.”

NapaLearns plans to use some of the grant money to directly fund the purchase of equipment, software licenses, and textbooks required for students.

It will also send nine teachers to the 8th Annual Conference on Integrated Computing and STEM Education Conference at UC Davis on Nov. 8, and pay for fees and transportation for more than 80 students to compete at the annual UC Davis Roboplay competition.

This past spring, there were 19 NVUSD middle and high school teams at the competition, where they earned 20 awards out of the 46 distributed.

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