Rhoades School students get a charge out of plugging children from Casa de Amistad into technology

Thanks to The Rhoades School, Casa de Amistad has a new club where students get to learn about the latest technology — in a very hands-on way.

Through the Technology Club, middle school students from the Encinitas school meet monthly with kindergarten through third-grade students at Casa de Amistad, a Solana Beach organization that fosters education and character development for local underrepresented children.

“Our kids are getting exposed to technology at a really young age,” said Nicole Mione-Green, Casa de Amistad’s program director. “It’s amazing. They are so engaged.”

During the meetings, the middle schoolers work individually with the younger children, who learn language, mathematics, science and other skills through the use of technology. There are a variety of rotating stations with tablets, laptops and even robots.

“I like working with the kids because it’s really fun,” said 13-year-old Kennedy Urcelay. “It’s important to know this stuff as they get older.”

Kennedy showed the kids how to use a programmable robot called a “Bee-Bot.” Children used the Bee-Bot’s directional keys to enter creative and complex command sequences, learning sequencing, estimation and problem solving.

Using a hardware tech device called Osmo, Ellie Silvester, 13, demonstrated how to use the technology to solve puzzles on an iPad.

And through a program called Scratch, Delaney Fritz, 12, taught the children how to create their own interactive animations and stories.

“They’re getting to learn and use technology at the same time,” Delaney said. “I just love to see the joy on the kids’ faces.”

Each of the school’s 16 seventh- and eighth-grade girls has mentored the children and participated in the club through The Rhoades School’s girls mentor program.

Although the club exposes children to technology at a young age, it also leaves a lasting impact on the middle school students, said PJ Stanley, a teacher at The Rhoades School.

“It’s a win-win on both sides,” said Stanley, who oversees the club, along with Dr. Julie Watts, another Rhoades teacher. “It’s made our students even more creative. One of the best ways to learn is when you become a teacher, and these children are becoming teachers.”

The Technology Club launched in January and held its last meeting in mid-May.

Because the partnership has proved so successful, Casa de Amistad and The Rhoades School plan to bring back the club next school year.

“We wanted to bring our technology here and share it with them,” Ellie said. “We’ve enjoyed seeing the kids learn.”

For more about Casa de Amistad and volunteer opportunities, visit www.casadeamistad.org.

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