Perot Museum and Dell announce new mobile innovation, TECH Truck
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Rolling into neighborhoods soon! Through a generous $1.13 million grant over three years from Dell, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science has created a mobile innovation truck that will bring science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) learning to a broader and more diverse audience in the Dallas/Fort Worth region and beyond. The Perot Museum TECH Truck, powered by Dell, will provide more opportunities for the community to engage in museum experiences through free, out-of-school educational and interactive programs, including drop-in sessions and workshops, using no- and low-tech activities as well as high-tech experiences. The program is designed to reach people who – for a variety of reasons – do not or cannot engage with the Museum at its physical location.
"We know there are families who never or rarely have an opportunity to visit museums, so we want to bring technology and digital literacy directly into their neighborhoods," said Colleen Walker, Eugene McDermott Chief Executive Officer of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. "This tremendous gift from our longtime friend, Dell, allows the Perot Museum to deliver meaningful, engaging and inspiring educational content in a unique way outside the four walls of our main building."
The super-cool, custom-outfitted van has been nicknamed TECH Truck, an acronym based on the program’s mission to inspire youth to "Tinker, Engineer, Create, and Hack." Specially trained Perot Museum educators will work on a full- time basis to instruct children to solve design challenges through hands-on making, tinkering and creative problem solving. Activities will include soldering, squishy circuits, coding, robotics, wind-tube challenges, 3D printing, laser cutting and stomp rocket design, to name a few.
"According to the Brookings Institution, there are 26 million science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related jobs in the U.S. today," said Mona Charif, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Dell Services. "The TECH TRUCK fosters the future success of underserved youth in those types of roles. Dell is thrilled to continue our strong relationship with the Perot Museum as we work together to find innovative new approaches to address critical skills gaps."
The TECH Truck will debut this fall, operating 300 days per year and reaching an estimated 20,000 people annually at community centers, libraries, public areas and parks, community events and schools. Plans are to launch a second TECH Truck in 2016. Each TECH Truck will be large enough to accommodate two staff members plus necessary materials and equipment. A pop-up awning will allow outdoor programming to take place adjacent to the vehicle.
Target audiences include economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, where most students attend Title 1 schools, and outlying areas in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. The Museum will leverage existing relationships with organizations such as the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girls Inc. and Boys and Girls Clubs along with city recreation centers to reach target populations.
The curriculum may involve "no technology" (such as the paper stomp rocket design challenge or creating rubber stamps), "low technology" (as in soldering and squishy circuits) or "high technology" (including 3D printing, computer coding and laser cutting) using equipment provided by Dell and others. Programs will be a mix of one-time drop-in sessions where there is no prerequisite attendance along with multiple-session mini-camps that dive more deeply into design thinking, processes and higher-order skills such as coding and programming. One-time sessions will correlate thematically to the mini-camps and serve to encourage further participation in mini-camps, providing transition from curious experimenter to engaged, interested participant.
The curriculum for the TECH Truck program has been developed by a team of expert Perot Museum educators. Two full-time staff members have been hired to guide and manage the program, with the support of the Museum’s education staff and trained volunteers. Most educators involved with the TECH Truck will speak both Spanish and English in order to best serve communities in the DFW area with large Spanish-speaking populations.
The Perot Museum has had a strong relationship with Dell for the past three years. In 2012, Dell Services donated $6.5 million in technology and services to the Perot Museum to power its IT operations and help support its goal to advance youth education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The investment included Dell products and services, along with initial technology implementation for the Museum build-out as well as outsourced technology operations, support services and data center hosting. Dell team members also donate their time and energy as volunteers, creating and manning a station at one of the Museum's monthly Discovery Days and participating in the annual Engineering Week.
For more information about the TECH Trucks, go to perotmuseum.org/techtruck.
For more information, visit www.dell.com/communities.