The Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab program is a combination laboratory, makerspace, and classroom, designed for students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. We work closely with their teachers and administrators to give students from all cultural and socio-economic backgrounds a chance to learn about STEM careers and the world of work that exists at Qualcomm, and to participate in actual engineering projects.
Lori Goulart is one of two science teachers at Riley School, a kindergarten-to-8th-grade school for students with special needs and behavior management issues. Some of her students participated in the Thinkabit Lab program, and we asked her to share her thoughts on Thinkabit Lab and the impact it’s had on the students.
What’s Riley School like?
We have two programs: We have the Riley program, which is the behavior-management program. And we have kids who are emotionally challenged. We also have a day-treatment program for kids who have mental-health issues.
How did your school and students hear about and become involved with Thinkabit Lab?
We heard about Thinkabit Lab when our principal and another science teacher went to an in-service about your program… We are always all for our kids doing anything that would be similar to community-based social skills instruction.
What kinds of changes did you see take place with your students over the time that they participated?
I really enjoyed watching the team work with the kids. Our kids are very intellectual and very high-functioning, but just have a lot of issues. Our students asked a lot of questions that the Thinkabit team might not have heard from a general education population, because we have a lot of deep thinkers here… They feel positive about it and want to go again next year. We are definitely going to figure out how to make that happen.
Do you have a particular student success story you'd like to share?
We have a student that has severe depression and did not want to be involved in Thinkabit Lab. She wanted to leave at one point, but we were able to bring her back to the lab and she ended up having an awesome experience, actively engaging in the activities. I saw her smiling quite a bit. Believe me, she doesn’t smile a lot. That’s huge, when you have somebody who suffers from severe depression, but is enjoying her experience and is happy, feeling productive and positive.
What would your overall message be to educators and parents about Thinkabit Lab?
If you have the opportunity to go, you need to go. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I know it was for our kids.