Solution Overview

Solution Name:

BigHope Robotics

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One-line solution summary:

Bridging the opportunity gap in early childhood and elementary STEAM Education to empower young learners in marginalized communities.

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Pitch your solution.

The BigHope Robotics Program accelerates STEAM education in early childhood and elementary education by providing engaging project-based learning curriculum, resources, and live instruction to young students in marginalized communities.

The program delivers the “T/technology” and “E/Engineering” in STEAM education that is often missing, or undertaught in under-resourced public schools. The program provides children with hands-on experiences to introduce computer science and engineering concepts to develop their foundational knowledge and cognitive skills to support their overall learning.

The program was specifically designed with low-cost tactile materials and free, trusted online educational platforms with projects that can be easily taught by teachers or volunteers with minimal training. 

The BigHope Robotics program helps close the opportunity gap in STEAM education in underserved communities, and by introducing young learners to this critical learning at the start of their education, they are better equipped to live and thrive in our 21st century world.

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Film your elevator pitch.

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What specific problem are you solving?

The inequities that persist in the US education system are inextricably tied to economic status and race. In 2019, there were 10.5 million American children living in poverty; Black and Hispanic children are about three times as likely to be living in poverty.

In the United States alone, one out of every four public schools in America are classified as high poverty, there is an inequity in funding for schools in districts with the highest poverty rates, and the majority of students attending these schools are African American and Hispanic. Students attending these schools have less access to quality STEAM resources and many are not introduced to computer science until as late as high school.

 

In the Dallas, Texas elementary schools that BigHope serves, 98.8% of the students are economically-disadvantaged, and more than 95% are African American and Hispanic. In prior years, less than half of the students demonstrate grade-readiness beginning in kindergarten and that extends through fifth grade.

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What is your solution?

The BigHope Robotics Programs provides Pre-Kindergarten-elementary students with hands-on STEAM learning and experiences to introduce foundational computer science and engineering concepts. While the programs are technology and engineering focused, the program curriculum includes reading, writing, mathematics and creative components to help student further develop those skills.

 The program is structured through project-based learning, providing age-appropriate robotics, progressive projects that are taught in 4-week sprints and can be taught in-person, remotely or using hybrid model.

·       The projects uses low-cost tactile materials, trusted online education platforms and open-source resources such as MakeCode, Code.org and Twine.

·       The curriculum is designed to facilitate a high-level of instructor and student engagement, and student-to-student collaboration.

·       All robotics include supporting enrichment activities and rewards and recognition to celebrate the students' completion of each project.

·       The BigHope Robotics was developed to be easily taught by non-STEAM trained educators and/or volunteers, including other students and requires minimal training to deliver.

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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

The BigHope Robotics Program currently works with Pre-Kindergarten and elementary students, their teachers and parents in elementary schools and youth organizations located in high-poverty communities in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

The elementary school student populations are more than 95% African American and Hispanic, 98.8% are economically disadvantaged and about 20% are English as secondary language learners. Within the school district, there is limited to no technology, specifically computer science education formally taught until high school.

While the elementary schools had an interest in teaching technology to their young students, they lacked the funding for resources and most of the teachers did not have experience, training or curriculum to deliver. 

BigHope developed and provides all of the academic standards-aligned curriculum, resources and training to deliver the Robotics program to students during the regular class schedule and also provides its programs to afterschool programs, robotics clubs and summer camps.

The program activities are designed to provide students with academic and social emotional skills-targeted learnings, group mentoring, and real-world experiences, and exposure to STEAM professionals. All projects include robotics and coding concepts, reading/read-alouds, writing, and math, with group mentoring and recognition and rewards for the students' participation.

 

When the pandemic abruptly shut down in person learning in March, BigHope developed an all-remote option that was used to run virtual summer robotics camps. The distance model was initially used in the fall of 2020 and then the hybrid model was delivered to engage students who were in-class and those who were still doing remote learning through the end of the 2020-2021 school year.

 

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Increase the engagement of learners in remote, hybrid, and physical environments, including strategies and tools for parental support, peer interaction, and guided independent work.
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Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.

The BigHope Robotics program provides an impactful, low-cost solution to provide students with quality STEAM education who otherwise do not have access to these resources in many primary and secondary schools in marginalized communities. The solution helps bridge the known gaps and disparity of resources, providing students with the opportunity to learn these critical skills at a very young age to accelerate their learning to learn and work in an increasingly technology-driven world.

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In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Dallas, TX, USA
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What is your solution’s stage of development?

Prototype: A venture or organization building and testing its product, service, or business model.
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Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.

The BigHope's Robotics Program was initially launched in 2019 as an in-person program in public elementary schools in the Dallas Independent School District in Dallas, Texas.The   are continuing to expand in the grade levels and overall number of students and schools it serves in the Dallas Independent School District (DISD). The programs are currently run at two elementary schools, and four community organizations in the DISD.

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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Oren O'Neal

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More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology
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What makes your solution innovative?

The BigHope Robotics program seeks  to address societal and  economic issues and disparities in marginalized communities by empowering learners at an early age to foster their interest and provide them with critical knowledge and help them develop skills that will support their ongoing education. While there are many interventions to advance STEAM education, most are targeted towards middle and high school students and not young learners who are in the most important developmental stages.

 

Our curriculum is designed to remove barriers such as the cost of,  and access, to quality STEAM curriculum and resources, and lack of qualified STEM instructors that prevent many students in under-resourced communities the opportunity to learn essential 2st century skills and knowledge. By using low-cost tactile materials and existing free and trusted widely-accessible online education resources and technologies, we have delivered a curriculum and model that has dramatically lowered the cost of obtaining and teaching students beginning in pre-Kindergarten and can reach  a large vast population of students.

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Robotics and Drones
  • Software and Mobile Applications
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Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Children & Adolescents
  • Rural
  • Urban
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Minorities & Previously Excluded Populations
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 4. Quality Education
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 10. Reduced Inequality
  • 16. Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
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In which countries do you currently operate?

  • United States
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In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • United States
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How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?

The BigHope currently serves approximately 600 elementary-school age students in the Dallas Independent School District (this was during the 2020-2021 school year that was adversely affected by the pandemic school closures, delayed starts and no in-person access to schools until May 2021.

BigHope anticipates serving 1000 elementary students in the upcoming academic year in at least two schools and afterschool programs.

By 2026, BigHope's goal is to expand our program to serve a greater number of students in elementary schools and to expand our robotics program to middle schools to serve between 5000-6000 students.

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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

Our progress towards our impact goals is based on how many students successfully participate in and complete at least three of our month-long robotics program projects. We also conduct teacher and parent surveys throughout the program.

What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?

The need and demand for BigHope’s services in the communities we serve far exceed our current capacity. 

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About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

Nonprofit

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How many people work on your solution team?

BigHope is currently an all-volunteer organization, led by founder Oren O'Neal and the Board of Directors.

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How long have you been working on your solution?

3

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How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

BigHope is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment and it is important for our leadership team to mirror the community we serve to bring in diverse and equitable solutions to the many problems that currently exist. Our board of directors is African American and female members with diverse professional backgrounds and experiences. 

BigHope has been working in Dallas public schools since 2019 establishing relationships with administrators, teachers and students. BigHope’s leadership has experience in various STEM fields and familiarity with the many hurdles facing the communities that the schools currently serve.

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What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership team?

BigHope is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment and it is important for our leadership team to mirror the community we serve to bring in diverse and equitable solutions to the many problems that currently exist. Our board of directors is African American and female members with diverse professional backgrounds and experiences. 

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Partnership & Prize Funding Opportunities

Why are you applying to Solve?

BigHope is applying to Solve for consideration of being selected as a Solver Team, to gain access to possible funding to join the robust network of social entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and corporations to cross-collaborate and support each other's solutions and impacts in communities around the world. 

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Please explain in more detail here.

Capacity Building is the most critical area BigHope currently needs support with, to continue to support the students we currently serve and to reach more students.  The need in the Dallas- area communities far exceeds our existing capacity to reach the number of students and schools that have expressed interest in having our robotics program taught to their students.

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What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?

Other STEM education organizations, and potentially Edtech companies,

 


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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The ASA Prize for Equitable Education? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

Yes, I wish to apply for this prize

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Solution Team

  • Susanna Palmer Marketing & Communications Director, BigHope
 
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