The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District has developed a mutually beneficial relationship with its neighbor Google, a Mountain View company.
During the 2011-2012 school year this relationship will continue to grow through additional technology, mentoring, speaking and sharing, and a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education between the school and the search engine innovator.
Google Community Fund of Tides Foundation
Through the Google Community Fund of Tides Foundation, Google has donated $50,000 for technology and materials to support the district’s STEM activities, with a special focus on working with under-represented students, preparing them to succeed in challenging math, science and technology classes. The funds will not support the purchase of standard school supplies, but will go toward the acquisition of materials too costly for school budgets, as well as supporting innovative projects.
Through the Foundation, Google will donate $10,000 each to the FIRST Robotics teams at Los Altos and Mountain View High schools. The district has an active and successful robotics program, with the Mountain View High School team winning the global FIRST Robotics Championship in 2009.
Focused on under-represented students, the foundation is funding $20,000 toward summer school STEM classes for the district’s eighth- and ninth-grade students to assist them with transitioning from the academic and social atmosphere of middle school to high school.
These efforts should strengthen their math and science skills so that they are prepared to succeed in geometry and biology when they enter ninth grade and start on the college track. The district’s major partner for the mathematics classes is ALearn, a local non-profit organization.
The foundation will provide $20,000 for students to compete in various STEM competitions. These funds could also be used to support visits from local experts in research and business to introduce the field ofs research.
Google Goodware program
As part of their Goodware program, Google will donate 200 used laptop computers to the MVLA school district this summer. The district will use the computers to promote STEM education efforts and bridge the technology divide by making computers available to students who currently do not have access.
National Engineering Week
Â In February, in honor ofÂ National Engineering Week, Google employees visited classrooms to discuss Computer Science. During March, 36 engineers addressed 21 MVHS classes.
The employees came prepared to work with the students. They engaged them with thoughtful, well-developed, interactive presentations and entertaining demonstrations. Many students not previously considering computer science (CS) became aware of the opportunities, the variety of jobs and the multiplicity of talents that go into CS projects. Myths were dispelled, minds were opened and the diversity in the workplace was emphasized.
“My kids really liked the presenter – she was able to give them a great idea of college recruiting and how software engineers are in demand,” said one of the host teachers following a presentation.
Take Your Child to Work Day
April 28, as a new addition to the annual Take Your Child to Work Day, Google invited 10 senior students to spend the day with Google engineers at the Mountain View headquarters.
The students shadowed a Google engineer partner and participated in a group “Lunch & Learn” session with other employees, plus a session where students discovered the world of mobile-phone-applications development through App Inventor – and enjoyed Google’s fabulous food to round out the day.
“I found the experience enriching,” said a student who attended the event. “Shadowing an engineer in the morning allowed me to see firsthand the work of a computer science engineer in a company like Google. The passion of the engineers for their work was contagious. Seeing what the engineers do comforted me in my choice to minor in computer science when I am off to college next year. The activities … were very interesting and engaging. Whether it be making an Android phone application or learning how the engineers correct code to ensure the search engine works, I found the activities fantastic.”
Google provides guest speakers for a variety of district events. Michael Jones, chief technology officer of Google Earth, spoke during Science and Technology Week. Iveta Brigis, Google K-12 Education Outreach Program manager, spoke to the district’s strategic planning task force about preparing graduates for the future.