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The Little Engineer That Could

The Little Engineer that Could is an apt name for DAPCEP’s K-3 supplemental education offering. The inventive program brings parents, teachers, and kids together while introducing concepts like gears, water, and electricity.  For youngsters, it nurtures an interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. For adults, the program helps foster parental engagement and prepares them for supporting young learners at home.
Michigan Lightlight: In your view, what makes your program innovative, effective or remarkable? 
DAPCEP Communications Coordinator Andrea Daniel: The program provides a unique opportunity for parents of young children to work with their child in an educational environment with a teacher. For many parents, it’s a very eye opening experience to watch their child learn and interact. The key component of the K-3 program is reaching students at an early age to naturally foster interest in these STEM fields. For parents, the goal is to prepare them to more effectively help their children to be successful learners. At each grade level we teach a different engineering concept: from water to chemical and physical reactions; from simple mechanics to electricity!
What was the best lesson learned in the past year?
Children are remarkable; they always meet the challenges presented to them.
Children are remarkable; they always meet the challenges presented to them.
We’ve also learned that the children truly value their experience. We had one third-grade graduate send us a homemade music video titled “DAPCEP Rocks!” The video showed him experimenting with water and simple gears and singing about wanting to be a mechanical engineer.
What was the hardest lesson learned in the past year?
Not every child can be in the program, but every child deserves a program like this. We have over 400 children on our waiting list; it would be incredible if we could serve them all.
What really differentiates this program?
The Parent – Child – Teacher interaction really sets this program apart from other educational programs. The parent component of the program is very powerful; it has inspired radical change in parental behavior and lays the foundation for a positive and supportive home where education is valued.
The parent component of the program is also very powerful; it has inspired radical change in parental behavior and lays the foundation for a positive and supportive home where education is valued.
The K-3 program is unique also in that it requires a three-year commitment by the child and parent.
What are the keys to success for your program?
The keys to success are: parental engagement, high quality teachers that know how to get the best out of all children no matter where they are in life and at every educational level, and a supportive infrastructure that removes barriers from learning
How do race and diversity affect the work of this program?
Unfortunately, you cannot talk about many things in the Detroit Area without race coming to the forefront. DAPCEP’s mission is to increase the number of historically underrepresented students who are motivated and prepared academically to pursue degrees leading to careers in STEM related fields through K-12 supplemental educational programming. Because of the polarizing nature of this community, you can in theory have a young person from the City of Detroit with very little exposure to other races or cultures. When we see this, we work with that young person and support them so that they have a strong foundation of self and the skills to live in a multi-cultural, multi-racial world. It’s not part of our mission, but it is essential to the success of our students.
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    Preparing kids for college and careers


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