One of the unintended consequences of coronavirus leading to the closure of schools is that the education attainment gap between the most disadvantaged students and those from more affluent backgrounds is expected to increase. Non-profit organisation First Book has surveyed educators and revealed that 40% of children in the US do not have access to reliable internet, significantly limiting the learning they can do at home.
The LEGO Foundation and LEGO Education have teamed up with CDW-G, Intel Corporation and First Book to create a new initiative titled Creating Learning Connections. According to the announcement: “This initiative provides learning solutions designed to fuel education during this critical time by supporting several thousand students and families in Title I schools in the United States impacted by the pandemic. Students will receive critical at-home and in–the-classroom learning resources, including internet connectivity, technology devices and hands-on STEAM learning solutions.”
“For most students growing up in underserved communities, without access to home computers or the Internet, learning during the COVID-19 pandemic ended last spring,” says Kyle Zimmer, president and CEO of First Book. “Educators serving kids in need have told us that their students simply don’t have the resources they need for distance learning. While school districts and teachers have stepped up in amazing ways to support their students during this time, leaving kids without devices and connectivity is the equivalent of locking them out of the school system. We are so grateful for the commitment and leadership of Intel Corporation, LEGO Education, the LEGO Foundation and CDW-G for helping us bridge the digital divide for thousands of children in need across the country!”
While Intel and CDW-G will provide $5 million in computers, software and digital resources, the LEGO Foundation is donating $2 million worth of STEAM products to help children learning at home and in school.
The Creating Learning Connections program will see underserved families in 17 states receive support. Almost 15,000 devices and 7,500 LEGO Education solutions will be delivered to 45 School Districts.
“This grant illustrates the critical need for, but also the power of teaching with, technology and hands-on solutions to engage and inspire students wherever and however they are learning. It’s never been more important to provide as many students as possible with playful learning opportunities that can help build their confidence and ultimately inspire a lifelong love of learning,” says Esben Stærk, president of LEGO Education. “We look forward to seeing all that these well-deserving teachers and students are able to achieve with the resources provided through this program. From making a mistake and trying again, to overcoming challenging circumstances, kids teach us the important lesson that with creativity and resilience, you can always rebuild, thrive, and succeed.”
Graham was the BrickFanatics.com Editor up until November 2020. He has plenty of experience working on LEGO related projects. He has contributed to various websites and publications on topics including niche hobbies, the toy industry and education.
Follw Graham on Twitter @grahamh100.