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Classified in: Science and technology
Subjects: CHI, PDT

First of Its Kind Pilot Program for Preschoolers Launched in Central Florida


Young Innovators Academy, The Early Learning Coalition of Orange County and internationally renowned educators team up to bring Empowering Communities to Shape their Worlds program to area's youngest learners

ORLANDO, Fla., June 14, 2024 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Central Florida is the first location in the nation for a new pilot program that will explore new ways of learning for local preschoolers. Sponsored by The Early Learning Coalition of Orange County (ELCOC) and led by the Orlando-based Young Innovators Academy and EPIC Innovation Collective educators, the Empowering Communities to Shape Their Worlds project uses the maker-centered learning approach, which puts students, parents and teachers in the driver's seat, at the center of creating their own learning experiences.

The 8-month long pilot program launches Friday, June 14 at Young Innovators Academy campuses in Oviedo, Winter Garden and participating Early Learning Coalition Centers in Orange County. To kick off the program, educators, parents and community partners toured the Young Innovators Academy campus in Winter Garden to get a firsthand look at the maker-centered model in action, meet the educators, including Dr. Edward Clapp, as well as Dr. Scott Fritz, CEO, ELCOC and Young Innovators founder Marnie Forestieri who, through the Young Innovators Foundation brings this innovative program to the Orlando community.

"Outdated teacher instruction models no longer serve children and traditional memorization and teacher directed learning hinder their creative potential," says Marnie Forestieri, CEO and Founder of Young Innovators Academy. "To truly empower communities, we need to shift our focus from traditional education methods to a more child- centered approach."

"We are honored to be a part of this innovative program. To keep up with our changing world, we need to adapt our teaching methods, especially with our youngest learners," says Dr. Scott Fritz, CEO, The Early Learning Coalition of Orange County. "Through this pilot program our educators will have the opportunity to learn from some of the greatest minds in early childhood education and then use these new methods to engage our youngest minds right here in Central Florida and contribute to their future success."

"The goal of this program is for children to achieve 'maker empowerment' ? by developing a sensitivity to design and the ability to shape one's world, even at a very young age," explained program creator, Edward Clapp, Ed.D. "A maker-empowered child does not see themselves as a mere consumer of design, they see themselves as the creators of their experiences."

By engaging in maker-centered learning, young students, and adults look closely at objects and systems, and explore the complexity of design and then find a way to make changes. The primary outcome is maker empowerment: a sensitivity to design along with the ability to shape one's world through building, tinkering, redesigning or hacking.

The initiative is designed and facilitated by Dr. Clapp, Lindsey Hicks, and Lisa Yokana, representatives of the newly formed EPIC Innovation Collective, a band of educationalists, innovators and changemakers committed to blazing paths to build a better world.

Dr. Clapp is a Principal Investigator at Project Zero?a research center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education?interested in exploring creativity and innovation, design and maker centered learning, entrepreneurial education, and contemporary approaches to arts teaching and learning. Dr. Clapp, along with Hicks and Yokana explore issues with their teacher partners through a variety of collaborative inquiries around the world.

The pilot program is made possible by funding from the ELCOC, the Young Innovators Foundation and donors. For more information visit Young Innovators Foundation.

Media kit available here.

About Young Innovators Academy
Young Innovators Academy is a for profit organization dedicated to revolutionizing early childhood education. By integrating cutting-edge learning concepts and a people-centered curriculum, the Academy prepares young learners for a rapidly changing world. Through fostering collaboration and inspiring innovative thinking, Young Innovators Academy aims to empower children to reach their highest potential and become future innovators. To learn more, visit https://www.younginnovatorsacademy.com/

Young Innovators Foundation is a non-for-profit organization with a mission to nurture and sustain the creative confidence that naturally flourishes during the early stages of life. We advocate for the integration of essential skills into educational curricula and champion effective student engagement strategies.

About The Early Learning Coalition of Orange County
The Early Learning Coalition of Orange County is committed to ensuring that every child in our community has access to quality child care, early education, and equal educational opportunities. To provide the best possible start for children, we connect Orange County families to financial aid, parenting skills training, early learning and child care locator assistance, and other services. We also support child care and early learning providers throughout the county with coaching, training, and resources to ensure the highest standards of child care at all our providers' locations.

Media Contact

Katie Mitzner, Young Innovators Academy, (407) 803-2499, [email protected]

Kelli Schulz, Early Learning Coalition of Orange County, (407) 747-0849, [email protected], https://elcoforangecounty.org/

SOURCE Young Innovators Academy


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