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Sesame Workshop Salutes Qualcomm and Mobile Education


Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

Dr. Paul Jacobs and his daughter Jessica with the Muppets.

Dr. Paul Jacobs and his daughter Jessica with the Muppets.

The Muppets celebrated mobile this week, awarding Qualcomm its annual Corporate Leadership Award for technology advances in early childhood education at the 11th annual Sesame Workshop Gala in New York City.

Dr. Paul Jacobs spoke in front of a tough crowd—Oscar the Grouch was in attendance, as well as Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Big Bird, a bunch of singing chickens and penguins, and many more of the furry residents of Sesame Street. “Mobile is the technology that will transform how children learn today and for years to come,” he said, just as television transformed learning in the 1960s with the birth of Sesame Street.

Jacobs spoke about some of the innovative apps Sesame and Qualcomm have developed together. They include Big Birds Words, which uses Vuforia technology to help children recognize words in the environment around them, and Abby’s Fairy Rock, which turns a tablet into a guitar thanks to AllJoyn peer-to-peer technology.

The event, which was hosted by Ali Wentworth and George Stephanopoulos, also honored philanthropist Susan Alice Buffet.

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Michelle Kessler

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Qualcomm and Virginia Tech collaborate on a new maker space

Earlier this year President Obama included Virginia Tech and Qualcomm’s new collaboration in a list of promising educational initiatives he highlighted while recently announcing his Computer Science for All initiative. The national Week of Making, also encouraged by the President’s call to action to “lift up makers and builders and doers across the country,” is an opportunity for educators and industry to make a commitment, together, in support of a brighter future!

The heart of this new collaboration with Virginia Tech, a leading science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) institution, lies in expanding Qualcomm’s San Diego-based Thinkabit Lab, which develops curricular and programmatic activities to facilitate the long-term engagement and development of both students and teachers. A second hub, the first on the east coast, will be located in the National Capital Region at Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church, Virginia — in close proximity to Washington, D.C. — will serve as a center for school-to-work activities for students, pre- and in-service teachers, and public school administrators.

Bev Watford, professor of engineering education in the College of Engineering, and Susan Ganter, professor in the school of education in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, lead the Virginia Tech program with Qualcomm. We asked both to share their thoughts on the collaboration and the opportunities the Thinkabit Lab will foster.

Why is the Virginia Tech collaboration with Qualcomm on the Thinkabit expansion so critical?

Watford: Nationally, we don’t have enough high-school students planning to study engineering or computer science in college. A large reason for this problem is the lack of properly trained K-12 teachers — people able to expose students to engineering concepts by integrating them into the existing science and mathematics courses. Over the last two years Qualcomm’s San Diego Thinkabit Lab has served more than 8,000 students and more than 500 teachers actively participated. THAT track record speaks for itself.

How is the collaboration unique to Virginia Tech?

Ganter: This collaboration will forge a unique path for developing teachers who will stimulate their students’ excitement for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — STEM — through career-based, hands-on experiences. We agree 110 percent with Qualcomm on its desire to reach out and help build a “teacher pipeline” for STEM education and teach the next generation how they can create and build a better world.