Intel Future Skills is a hands-on program that helps young people build a framework and mindset for a lifetime of problem-solving and discovery through Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) learning.
“I learned more about resilience and teamwork and how to apply it in my own life.”
Based around various team challenges and solo STEAM projects, the program is run by volunteers from Intel, Google, and World Wide Technology in conjunction with participating Boys Hope Girls Hope affiliates across the Network. So far, it has been held at affiliates in St. Louis, Arizona, Illinois, and Cincinnati. Next up is Northeastern Ohio and Guatemala, planned for the early spring of 2024.
The Intel Future Skills tour of Boys Hope Girls Hope kicked off at the St. Louis affiliate last fall. The program conjures up visions of computer parts and search algorithms but instead, the scholars can expect an inspiring day full of challenges that will put their teamworking skills and willingness to embrace failure to the test.
THINK DIFFERENTLY, FAIL FAST, GROW
Intel Future Skills is based on a design thinking methodology that is meant to strengthen participants’ creative problem-solving abilities. This means the scholars are challenged with hands-on, real-world innovation projects that encourage them to think differently, fail fast, and develop a growth mindset.
Volunteers from the partnering organizations lead the workshops, while team members from Boys Hope Girls Hope are available to assist and help guide scholars. As the Future Skills program has traveled to different Boys Hope Girls Hope affiliates across the country, local volunteers from our partner organizations have also stepped up to help.
Scholars, team members, and volunteers at the St. Louis affiliate’s Intel Future Skills workshop last fall.
“Our scholars were able to engage with representatives from each respective organization in a way that challenged and expanded their ability to create, be innovative, and evolve their thinking in order to reiterate ideas with progression and efficiency. The day was an enriching and positive experience for everyone involved.”
In each Intel Future Skills workshop, scholars learn from the volunteers about the applications of their activities in real-world STEM fields. Just as important, the day’s momentum is in the scholars’ hands.
At a typical Intel Future Skills workshop, the first project involved a self-assessment questionnaire, where scholars must think about their own strengths and weaknesses, and likes and dislikes, to get an idea about what type of problem solver they are. Scholars took to it with great interest, helped each other interpret the questionnaire, and willingly offered up their answers and thoughts on it during group discussions.
Next, scholars got a small robot kit with instructions. This challenge involved using a small electric motor, a nine-volt battery, markers, and tape to create a self-propelled, art-making robot called a “ScribbleBot.” Scholars built their robots while the program volunteers floated between tables to offer a helping hand. Volunteers reported lots of focus and big smiles, faces making it clear that this was one of the highlights of the day.
MISTAKES ARE NECESSARY FOR SUCCESS
This challenge, as with all the other ones on the agenda, serves a dual purpose. Making a robot is fun and rewarding in and of itself, but the underlying goal is to help scholars embrace the power of failure and iteration. When designing, innovating, or creating something new, failure is a necessary step to improvement, not an insurmountable setback. Scholars quickly catch on to the power of learning from initial missteps and use that in their subsequent iterations, working their way toward a functioning robot. Arizona scholar Angel Rodriguez summed it up perfectly: “Trial and error are major parts of success.” Fellow scholar Denisse Nieto said, “I learned more about resilience and teamwork and how to apply it in my own life.”
Scholars also learned about probability theory by making their own Galton boards. This device consists of a vertical board with interleaved rows of pegs. Beads are dropped from the top and, when the device is level, bounce either left or right as they hit the pegs. They are collected into bins at the bottom, where the height of bead columns accumulated in the bins approximate a bell curve.
The final challenge of the day was a competition. Scholars teamed up and gave it their all in making the best, completely original board game. Representatives from each team presented their game to the other teams and judges to explain the rules and how to win. Volunteers from Intel, World Wide Technology, and Google selected the winning team, who took home Amazon gift cards but, perhaps, more crucially, bragging rights for the year!
Martin Totland is the Communications and Media Coordinator at Boys Hope Girls Hope Network Headquarters.
Ryan Hanewinkel, the Academy Program Manager at Boys Hope Girls Hope of St. Louis had high praise for the program, and the scholars’ effort and engagement.
“The Intel Future Skills collaboration was a great success. Our scholars were able to engage with representatives from each respective organization in a way that challenged and expanded their ability to create, be innovative, and evolve their thinking in order to reiterate ideas with progression and efficiency. The day was an enriching and positive experience for everyone involved,” Hanewinkel said.
The Intel Future Skills program is a fantastic opportunity for the scholars of Boys Hope Girls Hope to learn about the power of iteration, embracing failure as a necessary step to success, and STEM fields of study and work. We are grateful to our partner organizations Intel, World Wide Technology, and Google, and the employees there who volunteer to spend this enriching time with our scholars.