The Story of KiP
Kid’s Innovation Playground (KiP) is a 501c3 non-profit organization with a mission to bridge the educational gap in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) experiences for children PreK-8th grade in rural western Pennsylvania. KiP offers FREE programs in robotics, engineering, video production and tech tinkering, enthusiastically engaging participants in STEAM and facilitating activities that promote a healthy growth mindset. Essential skills honed at KiP help children build for success in school and life.
Kid’s Innovation Playground knows innovation and creativity need to be nurtured, appreciated and expressed using multiple modalities with opportunities available for every child regardless of perceived abilities, social status, and race. KiP reaches a population of children for whom traditional educational settings is constricting and who thrive in our out-of-school time programs. Some students are on the autism spectrum, diagnosed with ADHD, or have other learning challenges. KiP employs PA certified teachers to accommodate and engage all children appropriately.
Research shows kids need to have personalized learning and engaging projects that is an amalgam of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). Educational growth occurs when children are actively working on meaningful projects they care about – generating new ideas, designing prototypes, refining and making it better. Applying the engineering design process, ask, imagine, plan, create, improve, and giving children times to flow within that process children become invested in the process and the product. Removing the stigma of failure is an important part of the problem-solving process and a positive way to learn. It is equally important that children learn that one problem can have many solutions and more children can see themselves successful. Role playing facilitates and enhances the ability to understand others and respond in a positive way allowing children to develop truly meaningful relationships with each other and the world.
KiP has created a much-needed location for children to “try-on” a variety of personal enrichment and career paths and has found several different award-winning curriculums to help deliver STEAM programming:
*Arts and Bots using Birdbrain Technologies Hummingbird® kit, children learn that coding isn’t just for video games, and robots are not just two machines that fight each other to the death. Students use MakeCode® to program lights, servo motors, and sensors and bring their arts and crafts to life.
*Kids Love Engineering, using Engineering is Elementary®, from the Museum of Science, Boston, kids are immersed in a particular engineering discipline, such as bio mechanical engineering, designing prosthetics for animals, or green engineering, creating recycled racers.
*Video Production using WEVIDEO® - Kids have an opportunity to create personal and educational videos combining green screen technology and mixing video with music and narration.
*Tech Tinkering providing access to and instruction in the use of high-end state-of-the art tech toys such as Bee-Bots®, OSMO®, and Cubelets®.
KiP is approved by Pennsylvania Department of Education to offer three 10-hour Professional Development workshops for Educators: Engineering is Elementary, Arts and Bots, and Tech Tinkering.
KiP was founded in 2019 by Lorraine Shaffer, a retired elementary school and computer technology teacher. KiP is able to reach hundreds of children per year thanks to grant funding from The Grable Foundation, Remake Learning, PNC Charitable Trust, the United Way of SW PA, along with smaller businesses and organizations in the community.
Founder, Executive Director, Instructor, and Lead Learner
Lorraine Shaffer is a retired elementary school and computer technology teacher. She is dedicated to bridging the gap in technological exposure and understanding for children, parents, and educators Western Pennsylvania. She is certified to teach Engineering is Elementary to children, as well as educators. She teaches Arts and Bots using the Hummingbird Bit, coding, and arts and crafts. She is experience teaching video production using WEVIDEO and has experience with many of the latest educational tech products such as Makey-Makey, OSMO, and Ozobot.