COSAM News Articles 2022 February 2022 Spotlight on COSAM Projects for Tiger Giving Day: SCORE’s Simon-Knowles Innovative Learning Library (SKILL)

Spotlight on COSAM Projects for Tiger Giving Day: SCORE’s Simon-Knowles Innovative Learning Library (SKILL)

Published: 02/15/2022

By: Leslie Leak

Auburn University is gearing up for Tiger Giving Day on Feb. 23, 2022 – its annual online crowdfunding initiative. One project will be the expansion of the Simon-Knowles Innovative Learning Library (SKILL), an outreach initiative designed to loan classroom sets of robotics devices to schools and provide professional development training to K-12 educators in Alabama. 

Sponsored by the Southeastern Center of Robotics Education (SCORE) in the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM), SKILL will provide vital STEM resources to fulfill part of Auburn University’s mission and also commemorate the legacies of two Auburn men who made far-reaching impacts in scientific instruction, outreach, and innovation - Drs. Marllin Simon and C. Harry Knowles.  

Simon, a professor of physics for nearly forty years, was instrumental in various efforts, including the Science in Motion program and the LEGO Robotics Challenge, while Knowles, a ’51 physics alumnus, held more than 400 U.S. patents and was founder and CEO of Metrologic Instruments, an industry-leader in laser and barcode scanner manufacturing. “SKILL will house a multitude of robotics and devices geared toward a specific grade (Pre-K to 12), so its name is very fitting, since both men had strong ties to Auburn and made huge strides in physics and robotics education,” said Jennifer Spencer, Assistant Director at SCORE.  

When Spencer, who has more than two decades of elementary teaching experience, joined SCORE in 2018, she recognized the need for such a loaning library because she knew many local teachers had no funding to purchase complete sets of robotics supplies for their classroom. 

Spencer noted that training and professional development is a key component of the library. Initially, educator training will be required to borrow robotics kits. “Sometimes, schools might have robotics, yet  teachers may not be familiar with how to use them, the equipment breaks, or the technology becomes out of date. Through the SKILL loaning library, we will not only provide the training to make educators feel more comfortable using the robotics technology, but we’ll also maintain the equipment and ensure the technology is current. We even offer Android or iPad devices for checkout if a device is needed to run a specific robot.”

SKILL will be initially accessible to 15 school systems throughout East Alabama.  However, Spencer hopes to one day serve even more educators across Alabama. “Our big dream is to be able to drop off and deliver robotics kits and establish additional sites around the state.”

For information regarding the SKILL Tiger Giving Day project, please contact Jennifer Spencer, SCORE Assistant Director, at jennifer.spencer@auburn.edu. 

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