COSAM News Articles 2023 September SCORE, iRobot, and Auburn Alumnus Jonathan Jones’ Next Step Foundation, team up to provide K-12 robotics education in Carrollton, GA

SCORE, iRobot, and Auburn Alumnus Jonathan Jones’ Next Step Foundation, team up to provide K-12 robotics education in Carrollton, GA

Published: 09/19/2023

By: Jennifer Spencer

Jonathan Jones, an Auburn University alumnus and four-year starting cornerback, founded the Next Step Foundation in 2019 to mentor and educate youth on practical life applications and professional development. In the last four years, Next Step Foundation has created an annual football camp in his hometown of Carrollton, Georgia, partnered with the Auburn Sustenance Project to raise funds, package, and distribute meals to families in need, and joined Play Like a Girl as a National Ambassador to help girls everywhere reach their potential on and off the field by leveraging the skills they learn on the field to propel them into STEM careers.  Jones’ Next Step Foundation also formed a partnership with iRobot and together, they added a STEM lab at a school in Boston in Feb. 2023.

Now, Next Step Foundation, iRobot, the Southeastern Center of Robotics Education (SCORE) at Auburn University, and Carrollton City Schools are working on a partnership to bring robotics to the students in Carrollton. 

SCORE is a K-12 robotics education center that aims to fulfill Auburn University’s land-grant mission of outreach in Alabama and beyond.  Jennifer Spencer, assistant director at SCORE, recently learned about Jones’ foundation when she contacted iRobot regarding a virtual tour of their facility.

“When Lisa Freed found out we were a robotics center housed at Auburn University, she immediately made the connection to Jonathan Jones who played football at Auburn and now plays for the New England Patriots,” explained Spencer. “Lisa had worked with Jonathan’s Next Step Foundation, and we thought we might be able to partner with Jonathan to bring educational robotics to Carrollton.  It is great when you meet like-minded people that are all about introducing students to the world of robotics.”

On Saturday, Sept. 2, prior to Auburn’s home opening football game for the 2023 season, Spencer hosted a group of girls, Madison Swint, Madison Reese, Daija Preston, and Seriya Williams, from Carrollton High School’s women’s basketball team at SCORE. The girls were in town to support the Next Step Foundation by volunteering at their concession stand during the game.  

During the SCORE tour, the girls were introduced to the iRobot Root Pro for the first time.  After a quick demonstration on how to program the robot to draw a square, the girls worked together to figure out how to code the robot to draw a triangle.  While they were discussing angles and measurements, Spencer commented, “I want you all to know that I have you doing math and geometry on a Saturday, and no one is even mad about it!”. The smiles on their faces and genuine curiosity are some of the reasons why Jennifer says she loves her job. 

“The way their eyes lit up when they programmed the robot to change colors and say ‘hello’ is why I am so passionate about what educational robotics can do.  We are excited about what the future of this partnership holds and are anxious to get into Carrollton City Schools with more robotics.”

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