“Can I volunteer here after I graduate?” That was one student’s question as the second annual gathering of ASD students, Cigna employees and CGI employees drew to a close on the Cigna campus last January 15.
Two years ago, Cigna—which co-sponsors STEM education programs for local students in partnership with their technology vendor, CGI—approached ASD with an invitation to participate. This year, Paige Kenausis, ASD’s Supervisor of Education - STEAM and Testing, along with robotics teacher Cynthia Rumery and Director of Education Paula Morabito, worked with Cigna and CGI to organize another fun and challenging day for ASD students.
Before the coding began, students started the day as teachers, introducing workshop organizers and mentors to the robot they were working on and teaching everyone the finger spelling and signs for the terminology involved in their robotics competition. Then they jumped into a class in Scratch (a free programming language and online community) and a class in Raspberry Pi, an operating system used in phones and video games. In these classes, CGI and Cigna employees presented a mini-lesson then let the students dive into their own coding, circulating through the room to answer questions and help guide them. Among the teachers in the room was a group of deaf and hard-of-hearing Cigna recruits, whose presence sent a strong message to ASD students that they are ALL Ways Able.
Also exciting was the presence of two local news crews: NBC Connecticut and WFSB Eyewitness News. The workshop ended with each student receiving a certificate of participation, and then a final Q&A. The question that summed up the day: “Can we do this again next year?" I believe the answer is YES!
To see the news clip from NBC30, please click HERE.