- Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 11:56
- Published on Wednesday, 07 August 2013 10:40
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Just ten months ago, a simple cup of coffee and an article in the morning paper changed the lives of colleagues and veteran teachers Dara Dawson and Sara Butler. The two women have twenty years of experience teaching math and science for upper-elementary and middle school levels and share a common passion for inspiring students to think outside the box.
The article that caught their attention was about an education enrichment program titled Engineering For Kids®. Classes offered through Engineering For Kids provide children ages 4-14 with hands-on learning experiences in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). While STEM courses are typically available to students in grades 9-12, both Dawson and Butler agree that reaching children at a younger age is essential to developing their critical thinking skills and exposing them to future opportunities in the ever growing STEM career fields.
Engineering For Kids was created in 2007 by engineering teacher Dori Roberts in Stafford, Va. and was open for franchise opportunities in 2009. Since the company is locally owned by a fellow teacher, Dawson and Butler decided to look into the possibility of owning their own territory while still doing what they love – teaching!
Within just a few days they set up a meeting with Ms. Roberts and began researching the success of other Engineering For Kids territories in VA and across the country. On February 1, 2013 Dawson and Butler signed their franchise agreement and Engineering For Kids of Central VA was born. Their Central Virginia location includes the counties of King George, Spotsylvania, Orange, Culpeper Louisa, Caroline, Henrico, and Hanover.
Dawson and Butler held their first classes through Spotsylvania Parks and Recreation in April and camps have been busy in Spotsylvania, King George, and Caroline counties this summer. The Engineering for Kids classes in King George took place at the Citizens Center through King George Parks and Recreation.
This fall Engineering For Kids of Central VA has decided to team with the King George YMCA and the new Leadership Enrichment Center slated to open mid-September in King George. Classes will be offered in both locations starting in September and will change every six weeks throughout the school year. Dawson and Butler are excited to be part of a movement towards leadership, learning and awareness of STEM fields in King George. Classes are offered in all of the counties mentioned above and at the Glen Allen Learning Center located at 1586 Mountain Road. There will be a grand opening at the Glen Allen location on August 24.
Engineering For Kids offers classes in Aerospace, Electrical, Mechanical, Civil, Marine, Chemical, Environmental, and Industrial Engineering. Electronic Game Design and Lego ® Robotics classes are popular with students in the 8-14 year old age group as well as the Lego ® WeDo classes for students in the 4-8 year old age group. All classes focus on the engineering design process where students are faced with a task and learn to brainstorm, design, test, collaborate, redesign and test again until they have reached the most effective way to complete the task. Both Dawson and Butler agree that, “Learning by doing is the best way to understand the application of math and science concepts” and have been successfully implementing these standards in their classrooms for years with all types of learners.
An Open House for the new Leadership Enrichment Center in King George will be held on Thursday, Aug. 8 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and again from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at 11165 Journal Parkway in the Village Suites on the lower level. Stop by to meet Dara Dawson and Sara Butler and learn more about Engineering For Kids classes being offered this fall. In the meantime, check out their website at www.engineeringforkids.net/centralva or give them a call at (540) 538-3306. They are looking forward to serving school or youth groups, homeschool classes, scout groups, or hosting a birthday party in your area!
- Ruth Herrink