Press Release: Firia Labs Awarded Grant to Bring Computer Science to Rural Alabama Schools

MADISON, AL – Jan. 21, 2020 – Firia Labs has partnered with Infosys Foundation USA to train 100 public school teachers across the United States. The goal of the project is to expand computer science education for rural communities and underrepresented groups. 

With the help of a generous grant from Infosys Foundation USA, Firia Labs will provide fully funded training sessions and equipment for all participating teachers. CEO Geri Ewing stated, “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to really make a difference in our rural communities.” The initiative, labeled the Rural Robotics Revolution (R-Cubed), has received an outpouring of interest. Over 50 teachers across 33 Alabama counties have already signed up to participate.

“We believe it is critical that all students have an equal opportunity to learn computer science and we recognize the essential role that teachers play in delivering this content within their classrooms,” said Kate Maloney, Executive Director, Infosys Foundation USA. “As part of an on-going investment in our digital learning platform, the Pathfinders Online Institute, we are delighted to partner with Firia Labs on R-Cubed so that teachers in rural and underserved communities have the skills and confidence they need to bring coding to their students.” 

The R-Cubed project includes two full days of professional development focused on curriculum, lesson planning, classroom strategies, and basic Python coding skills. Teachers will be given all the necessary tools to implement Firia Labs’ computer science curriculum in their upper elementary, middle, and high school classrooms. Preference was given for educators from areas with populations of 50,000 or less and Title I school districts. Most of the participants are from rural school districts in Alabama and Arkansas; but, there will also be educators from 15 different states including Hawaii, North Dakota, Ohio, California, and Maryland.

Firia Labs was co-founded in 2017 by Geri and her husband David Ewing who is a software engineer. They wanted to create real-world learning experiences for students using physical hardware, open-ended software with instructional content, and the Python computer programming language. According to the couple, “Our mission is to demystify technology so people can be creators and not just consumers in our increasingly tech-driven world. Empowering rural students with an authentic coding experience that is relevant to the job market opens up possibilities many of them may have never considered. In Alabama and nationwide there is a great need for these skills, and we want to show our students that the opportunity is there for them to seize.”

The R-Cubed training sessions will take place in the last two weeks of January 2021. Teachers receiving the training will also be connected with a support network through Firia Labs and with Infosys Foundation USA to provide continuity and ongoing assistance as their schools implement computer science classes, makerspaces, and STEM academies by way of the Foundation’s K-12 digital learning platform, the Pathfinders Online Institute. 

For additional information contact info@firialabs.com or follow on Twitter @FiriaLabs.

About Firia Labs

Firia Labs makes tools and curriculum that demystify how technology works so that people can be creators and not just consumers. They offer physical hardware and standards-aligned curriculum that teaches robotics and Python programming to middle and high school students. Their project-based learning approach makes it easy for any teacher to offer computer science in their classroom - no STEM background required. Learn more at https://firialabs.com/ or follow on Twitter @FiriaLabs or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FiriaLabs.

About Infosys Foundation USA

Infosys Foundation USA is committed to expanding computer science and maker education in the United States, with a specific focus on increasing access to underrepresented communities. The Foundation works with nonprofits, academic institutions, policy makers, educators and experts in the computer science and maker fields to prepare students and teachers for bright opportunities in a digital future. Learn more at http://www.infosys.org/usa/ follow on Twitter @InfyFoundation or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/InfosysFoundationUSA.