Tech Curriculum Teachers Can Understand with Adam Dalton
July 19, 2022
Tech Curriculum Teachers Can Understand with Adam Dalton

We forget that in order for teachers to teach materials, they need to know how to use them. Most teachers today don’t have any experience with robotics or computer science, so how can we expect them to teach these skills to our students?

There’s a lot of talk about ensuring that curriculum is inclusive, but we forget about the teachers. Sure there are computer science teachers out there who can teach those higher-level classes where true expertise is necessary. But the curriculum is not inclusive for younger students because it’s not presented in a way that teachers can teach it. The teacher is the barrier, and unintentionally so.

This week on the podcast, I’m talking with Adam Dalton, who co-founded Imagine Robotify, when he was just 23 years old. Robotify is a STEM-based curriculum designed to ignite excitement in tomorrow’s leaders in a way that’s accessible to teachers and schools of all sizes and budgets.

In the episode, we talk about the importance of preparing our children for the future and why robotics and automation will create jobs, rather than replace humans.

I’m so excited about the possibilities after talking to Adam. What an inspiration!

About Adam Dalton:

Adam Dalton is the CEO and co-founder of Imagine Robotify, a browser-based digital solution designed to teach coding using the world’s best computer science simulator. With an idea that started in high school alongside his co-founder Evan Darcy, Adam used his background in and passion for inspiring others to create Imagine Robotify. Using Imagine Robotify, students have 24/7 access to the latest and greatest robots without having to ever purchase real hardware in a way that makes coding and robotics more affordable and more accessible for all students across the world.

Adam holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Studies from Dublin City University. Connect with him on LinkedIn and follow Imagine Learning on Facebook and Instagram.

Jump in the Conversation:

[1:36] – Imagine Robotify’s story
[2:33] – Why coding
[4:33] – Mission to make coding and robotics accessible in an engaging way
[5:30] – Virtual robots at a fraction of the cost can impact thousands of students
[6:46] – More accessibility to variety of learners
[12:16] – Building an immersive experience that performs on the devices that educators actual use
[13:10] – Educators are preparing youth for a future that we don’t know about yet
don’t know what will happen yet
[13:28] – What might be in the future
[15:48] – Teachers aren’t getting taught computer science
[17:15] – If you’re an educator who’s never done it before, you can still teach it
[18:29] – Another evolution of human race
[20:05] – Critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity
[22:07] – Steps to take to make sure youth are prepared for tomorrow’s workforce
[24:24] – Turbo Time
[26:55] – What people need to know about the future of the workplace
[30:07] – The best thing about coding
[31:55] – Adam’s Magic Wand
[35:18] – Maureen’s takeaways

Links & Resources

 

Transcript:

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 0:03
Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at education Evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how. I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host and founder of education evolution, micro school coalition, and co founder of at active, I consult and train with schools and leaders who are fiercely committed to changing the narrative, reimagining the education landscape, and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive. If you are new, welcome to the podcast. Please subscribe on our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around a while, have you left a review?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:09
Hi Adam, it is so good to have you on education evolution today. It’s great to be here morning. And listeners today I’m chatting with Adam Dalton, who co founded Imagine Robotify when he was just 23 years old, in order to make coding and robotics more accessible for students globally. Adam, tell us the story of how you came to create imagine robotics.

Adam Dalton 1:37
Yeah, well actually, I think the story kind of goes beyond even the age of 23. So we started what was robotics AI? When we were I think about 16 in high school. So myself and my co founder, Evan Darcy, we started the business here in in Dublin in Ireland. We’re very proud, proud Irish, Irish man. And we, we went to high school together, we actually met each other on the first day of high school. And over time, we got to know each other more and more. And we realized that we always had a passion for not only starting businesses, but also impacting young people specifically in our school. And so we decided to start Roboto Fie, we were just 16 we started teaching kids in our local school how to code. And we felt it was a really important topic to try and kind of impart and I think one of the reasons why we chose coding, because a lot of people are gonna ask that is like, why coding. For me, it was always quite a creative child. You know, I always used to play with Lego create these fantasy worlds, you know, just just, I always had a big imagination. But the problem was, I could never sing, play an instrument of terrible artists. creative outlets are very strong point. But when I found coding, I finally realized that Well, I can actually use my creativity and my imagination, to build things to build products to build websites to build new things that have never existed before. And I found it was an amazing way to unlock my creativity. And as I got more and more into it, I started to realize that this is a really important skill for the future. But that it doesn’t hit everyone the same way as it did me. Because sometimes the passion isn’t there for you know, computer science, or robotics, or whatever it might be, you know, someone has a passion for music, or arts or sports, what have you. And so we started looking at ways we could try and teach students in our local school how to code and we initially use websites. And the reason why is because there’s websites, you know, they’re pretty easy to teach about, you know, you don’t need any additional hardware. But we found that they didn’t really capture the attention of a lot of kids. And so we brought robots in the classroom to try and see would that have any impact on the attention span the interest in the classroom on these topics? And sure enough, it did. It was incredible printing, you brought a robot into a classroom. And he taught students how to code using a robot, it was just like, there was just a click. It was, you know, it just it just motivated, inspired, it got kids excited. I probably, you know, we grew up in North Dublin coding certainly was not at the forefront of, you know, you know, our local high school and you got kids who never would have done anything like that before that were excited. And there was all these notions, whether you’re a you’re a geek, if you’re coding, all that stuff, it just gets taken into the classroom when you see the excitement of robots. But over time, we started realize that while they’re an incredible tool, and teachers and principals appreciate they’re an incredible way to teach computer science. There’s also some things that stopped it from being widespread adopted, and your cost, you know, the cost of these devices can be so prohibitive, and creates these big access issues for students.

Adam Dalton 4:51
And so, robotically, we decided to set out on a mission to try and make coding and robotics accessible in a foreign wonderful and engage Jing Wei, and at the age of 23, just last year, November 2021, we were acquired by Imagine learning, one of the US is largest educational technology companies that have built products to try and ignite as many learning outcomes as possible. Now, what are the guys on imagine robotic ly were able to deliver and kind of build even more towards our mission of preparing young people to learn not only coding or robotics, but actually now computer science. And using robotic flight by controlling virtual robots in virtual worlds. So a fraction of the price of a traditional robot, we can only impact players as the students to control robots in virtual worlds and immersive 3d environments, often the power of the web browser. And it means now we can take students to the red planet and Morris, or an underwater shipwreck, to explore you know, and hunt for treasure using an oral V. The possibilities are really limitless now. Thanks to the technology we’ve been able to build. And, and so yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s why we started. And that’s kind of where we’ve taken it, Maureen.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 6:16
that sounds so interesting. And I would have been somebody that would have like, give me music coding sounds like now that sounds hard. So for you to make it something tying in robots and treasure hunts, that would have captured my interest as a student. Accessibility has become a really huge issue. 2020 really showed us that, wow, the disparity is huge. And we have to fix that. So it sounds like you don’t have to have physical robots. But what makes us accessible to a variety of learners with a variety of incomes?

Adam Dalton 6:50
Yeah, absolutely. Look, I think, you know, based on on where we are, one of the main things that makes it accessible is, you know, over COVID, we saw huge federal investment into because it was necessary, right. And so we saw districts going out and purchasing crumbles, you know, different devices. And we’ve gotten so much, you know, obviously, the dynamic was a terrible time, it was a really difficult time for a lot of people. But there was some positives that came from and you have to take the positives, and one of the positives was, especially in education, was that we saw a move and a shift towards one to one access to educational devices. In general, we’re shifting closer to that, thanks to federal spend, and districts focused on providing devices to students that previously didn’t have any because of homeschooling and distance learning. And so the American has been flooded with all these Chromebook devices, the districts have made investments. And as we know, Chromebook devices are an incredible learning tool. But they’re primarily browser based, you know, so you’re not going to be downloading or installing heavy packages. So it makes for a Spotify specialist. We’ve built this browser based simulator, which enables us to serve these immersive 3d Colorful environments that are physics enabled. And so students can control a variety of different robots like drones, like ROV like Mars rovers, all from the power of a simulator, except it’s accessible in like five seconds by going to a URL on Google Chrome, or any other modern web browser. And so it’s instantly accessible in a very literal term of it’s extremely quick to download. It does, it actually doesn’t require any downloads, it’s extremely quick to access via a web browser.

Adam Dalton 8:33
But also, when you look at the pricing, right? I mean, you start to look at, you know, you could, you could talk about, you look at all these, you know, say robotics manufacturers and robots are great, you know, we don’t, we don’t want to replace robots, we want to compliment robots, but a school district could maybe afford, say, 30 units, say 30 robots and say a robot cost $250, you know, and they’ve got to share that between the entire school. And imagine robot fie. You could serve as the entire school for, you know, not far off, whatever you will be invested in, in physical. And so we’ve really wrapped in access barriers to these technologies. And while it’s not a physical unit, were able to provide access to an unlimited amount of virtual robots provide great computer science content all under one roof, and extremely affordable way. And so now you’ve got districts that have purchased hardware, they might have purchased some Legos or whatever that might have been. And they’re coming to us now and imagine robotically saying great, you know, we’ve made this big investment, whether when times are good, or we got this grant or since goes down, but now we’re able to give the opportunity to all schools, not just the schools that have already purchased these units to be able to access these technologies at a scale that previously was impossible to now because of the device access, where most students have a phone, a laptop, a Chromebook, you can access the robotic AI technology and any of those So you’re not prohibited anymore. And we’re making it easy for people to adopt this technology through imagined real modified. And it’s something that’s been really inspiring to me. And we’ve seen it on our side, you know, seeing it with the conversations we’ve had with key customers, we’ve seen it with analytics on our back end, as you’re tracking an overall usage, we’ve seen this, this amazing story start to unfold.

Adam Dalton 10:22
And, you know, I was at St. Last week in New Orleans. So I traveled over from Dublin was amazing. And then met a couple of our customers, great people. And what was crazy was the amount of customers coming in saying, you know, I’m head of, of it in the district or technology or your superintendent. And hey, you know, I’ve been looking for something like this for years, because we have a robotics program. But we can only serve as a to a level, we can’t get every single student in the district in a district for 2030 40,000 students, how are we going to get a student a robot, well, now would imagine a robot to fly, you’re able to take robots to an entire district at a real scalable level. And, you know, in a way that is fair. And that goes not just for districts that already have hardware, but districts that come to me and say, we’ve never been able to do this before, because of the cost of robotics, because of the access issues, the training, the charging, the logistics, all of the vaccines that do come with it. And now they’re able to bring these these technologies into the classroom for kids that have never been able to experience it. So we’re doing, we’re doing as much as we can do to make, you know, learning how to code and learning computer science engaging for unaccessible.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 11:35
Not is so important. And we’ve done it my microscope, we’ve done some robotics, and we’ve had to bring in different computers. Because the Chromebooks aren’t sufficient. But Chromebooks are a godsend to educators. They’re affordable, they’re sturdy, we can blog, they’re not on YouTube, Facebook, you know, so they really do a lot of what we wanted you to get into Google Classroom, and the YouTube link can be there. So it does a lot. I really appreciate that you acknowledge that basic computers are the way a lot of schools are operating? And that you we don’t have to have a fancier or a more robust device to run the program?

Adam Dalton 12:11
Oh, absolutely. You know, I mean, this is the thing. And for us, it’s like, what we’ve tried to do is to build the most immersive experience possible, that gives this kind of feeling of of reality, but in a way that that can perform on devices that are dedicated to us. And so I think that’s something that a lot of the educators, you know, we have just built for students, but also built for educators to make it easy for educators to adopt these technologies. You know, that’s, that’s a big thing that’s really important is that educators also feel comfortable adopting these technologies, bringing these technologies in the classroom. And if you’re not making a product that works for the educators, and it’s never going to get to the students, you know, no matter how hard you try, we got to build tools that are friendly for educators and friendly for students. And that’s when we all win.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 13:02
Absolutely. You know, I don’t right now, educators, we have such a tough role, because we are preparing youth for a future that we don’t know, things are changing so quickly. What do you know about the future of automation, and jobs? And how does imagine ratify align with what you know?

Adam Dalton 13:26
Absolutely. I think it’s a fantastic point. And I see it all the time. You know, I go on the road a lot, meet our customers, whether it’s here in Ireland, whether it’s in Europe, we’ve got real use in over 100 different countries, US is a place that we have a huge focus on. And as imagine Roboto Fie, and we have conversations all the time in teachers have been putting a lot of pressure on and when I say COVID wasn’t easy, you know, for teachers, oh, my goodness, like, I mean, it was crazy. Seeing what happened. I’ve got some teacher friends trying to do the remote learning thing was hard to say the least. I feel like there’s been more and more pressure on teachers over recent years to add new things to the program, all while you’ve got this future that we’re trying to prepare kids for. And it’s probably hard to know where it’s because no one’s saying, here’s the answer. Here’s what you got to do. Teachers are left to figure it out themselves. And we understand that and we’ve we’ve really thought about it from our design phase from our kind of production phase for how we build how we ship how we, you know, how we’ve laid out our entire product is to be extremely focused on not only just being a great resource for teachers, but but just being a one stop shop for teachers looking to educate students about the future, about computer science, about automation about AI, but all these things we’ve combined, basically, for practice, school, and 2023. We’re super excited.

Adam Dalton 14:48
And we basically combined all the amazing content that we’ve built already on our web dashboard with this own plugs content to teach students about networking, computers, all of this content And that were packaging and bundling into the, into the package. And that that students can access which gives us holistic computer science coverage, which is like this one stop shop, easy to access, easy to onboard, find it answers all your questions. And it kind of teaches students about the future without a teacher having to tinker with the curriculum, or Tinker activities or try and figure out what the future even means, right. That’s what our team are here for. That’s what our team of experts are here for all of our content is aligned to the CSTA standards. And we’re also aligned to a number of individual state standards for computer science education, and we’re aiming to become, you know, I would say, become leaders in the field of providing that one stop shop, providing that, you know, you don’t have to take and if teachers come to me all the time, great examples, like teachers that have never, you know, because teachers in University College, they don’t get taught about computer science, somebody coming in now, right?

Adam Dalton 15:58
So you know, how many percentage of teachers now on leave of computer science or how to code, it’s probably quite low. And so if we want this to be adopted at scale for the future that we have to get ready for. That’s, that’s why we’re doing the work we’re doing. It’s like, you know, we need to provide teachers the ability to teach this without going back to college, without trying to figure it out themselves, we’re going to help them by building a product that actually works with them. And we’ve we’ve had teachers come in with no coding experiences, no digital platform experience, even not far be able to deliver eight week 12 week, you know, semester long, whole year courses on robotics AI. Why? Because you built it so that there’s multiple layers, you know, it’s not just, it’s not just, you got to figure it all out yourself, we’re gonna give you all the raw materials, it’s like, okay, there’s a base of where the platform will actually teach the students, because it’s all self guided, it’s got all the material, students can work through themselves at their own pace, every student gets an account. Great. And then we provide educator resources, worksheets, booklets, lesson plans, educated guides, differentiation guides. And then we also provide a suite of tools to the educator, like monitoring tools, analytics, reporting, tools, classroom management, tools, easy integration, all that stuff. And all of those standards together, create an experience that if you’re an educator, that’s super experienced, and ofay. With coding, you can go deep, if you’re an educator, that’s never done it before, you can still create a great experience to teach your classroom of the future. And it’s not going to cause you any trouble.

Adam Dalton 17:34
Because the idea of it is, is that we’re trying to take away that responsibility for teachers, and just help teachers do what they really want to do, which is impact children impact their future impact, their ability to understand the future, without putting all the pressure on you guys to figure that stuff out. And so we built from the ground up with that in mind, and the future is, you know, I think it’s often painted as a scary thing. It’s actually one of my pet peeves in education. And it’s like, this kind of fear about automation, robotics, is it going to take our jobs, you know, it’s all this is fear around the robotics piece. And what I always say is, you know, I’m sure they had the same fears when people were on horses, instead of driving cars, I’m looking for the jobs that were created from, you know, the car industry or, you know, the industrial revolution. This is just another evolution of the human race. And so as we start to develop these skills, these are going to be the skills you need for jobs, everyday jobs, not just roboticist or physicist, or whatever, you decide this is going to be an everyday life. Because as robots, automation technology comes into our day to day work, we’re going to need to know how to interact with them, and how to control them. And I see that as an opportunity, as an opportunity to grow as an opportunity to learn. And, you know, I always see it. It’s a great feeling when we see parents work with their kids on robotics AI. And they’re learning and the kids are learning at a quicker, right and their parents, by the way, they’re running rings around most of the time. It’s amazing to see though, when that happens, people Secondly, center Oh, this isn’t that scary. I mean, we focused on building our product in that way. And I’m glad you asked question because I’m actually really excited for the future and excited what we can do with the tools that are allocated to try and help teachers and students to get to where they need to be.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 19:36
I love that. I know my microscope we do a lot of project based learning and group projects. We talked about the 21st century skills. We want kids to know how to communicate, collaborate, create, use critical thinking, design, thinking iterate, it sounds like imagine robota phi is totally down that road as opposed to memorize and as the kids say, regurgitate. Don’t you feel like You’re really addressing these 21st century skills?

Adam Dalton 20:03
Oh, absolutely, I think we’ve been really, really focusing and honing in on kind of what we’re calling the four C’s of STEM, they’re kind of well regarded, um, you just mentioned them off. Critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity. And if you look kind of, obviously sometimes a platform like or modify for the complicated, we’re doing virtual robots in browser, it’s accessible. You know, it’s really easy to log on, we have all the resources, it’s a one stop shop, all of those buzzwords, right. What does it actually do? What value does it bring, is we’re helping educate the forces of STEM critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity. So it’s bigger than just coding. It’s bigger than just a language. We teach students using block based programming, elementary and middle school. And then we also have Python, which is an industry leading coding language, which is Career Ready coding education. However, we’re not even saying that we’re saying there’s actually something bigger with those languages, which is those four C’s of critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity. So we’re absolutely delighted to have won this year’s Codie Award for Best coding and computational thinking. So we were, we were really excited to have one that I’m really, really proud to achieve. And for our team, and to get that recognition, imagine robotic AI, it’s being taken to new heights. And so we couldn’t be more excited about what we’re doing. It’s we’ve got this team in here of people of extremely passionate educators that just care so deeply about the cause that we’re, you know, we’re trying to solve and it’s a really fun place to work. You know, we’ve got an incredible staff and to be able to have, you know, won that award for best coding and computational thinking solution, I think it helps us with that motivation to keep going after those big four C’s of, of computer science education. So yeah, we’re glad you asked that,

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 21:59
congratulations. That’s amazing. Thank you. So I always like to ask my guests, what can educators and parents be doing? So what three steps would you recommend that educators and parents take to make sure our youth are prepared for tomorrow’s workforce,

Adam Dalton 22:19
three steps, you know whether I can put it into three specific steps, I’m not sure. But I can give it a go, I would say, the first thing I do is just have an open mind. You can really love art, and you can really love sport. That doesn’t mean your son or daughter can also enjoy coding or robots. And so have an open mind the idea have an open mind that this this thing isn’t actually that hard. It’s like there’s stuff out there to help you figure stuff out. The second thing is, get involved, get involved with your, with your kids. Like, when you see parents work with their kids, it’s like, well, you know, you just see this, first of all incredible bond being formed. But also, this great learning, that happens as your child sees mommy or daddy be able to actually interact with the same stuff you are, and it pushes the students on the pushes the parents on the parents will learn, you’re gonna learn, you know about this technology. And by doing that you’re your kids. And we’ve seen some incredible success stories of students that are way too young to be used and robotic ly that have excelled out robotic ly, because they’re working with their parents, they’re getting better, and they just feel really confident. And then finally, I would say, speak to the teachers speak to the educators be involved, find out what’s happening in the local community.

Adam Dalton 23:48
What’s happening in your school district to do with coding or computer science, you’ll find that schools I’m not sure Maureen and your skill Do you have like a robotics club or an after school club or, you know, there’s coding boot camps? Usually, especially in today’s age, there’s all these ways for students to get involved, great volunteer groups, there’s awesome, you know, after school clubs, and a lot of districts already think of it now. So yeah, those are kind of my trade. And that I that I would say it’s it’s have an open mind at actually, you know, learn with your kids, and then talk to talk to the community and talk to your educators and find out what’s out there. And then obviously, you know, imagine robotics AI is an amazing product. So definitely check that out

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 24:32
and invest in your product. Absolutely. That’s very important one. I’m going to switch to turbo time questions. I’d love for the audience to get to know a little bit about you, Adam. So I’m just gonna fire some questions at you. What’s the last book you read?

Adam Dalton 24:51
Don’t make me think by Steve Krug

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 24:54
who are two inspirational folks you’d love to meet.

Adam Dalton 24:58
If you got a question over One that I’ve kind of had to think about loss, I think I’d say, Sir Alex Ferguson, who is a English soccer manager who manages my favorite team Manchester United for many years. And it was one of probably the most successful leaders in sporting history. And I would say, my second, the second person, I think, inspirational person I’d absolutely love to meet or have met is Steve Jobs. And I was lucky enough to have met Steve Wozniak, there was a lifelong dream of mine. And Woz is actually a partner of the Imagine robot of phi. And I spoke to Steve last November. And as he spoke about the early days with with jobs, and made me reminisce of my time starting imagine robot to fly with Devin and the impact that those two guys had on the world. And the impact that that jobs leadership had on our everyday lives, I think can’t be understated. So sir, Alex Ferguson, Steve Jobs are two on a live one unfortunately, did. So. I don’t know if I’ll pass with that.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 26:11
Wonderful, great. What would either place you’d like to travel or your favorite place to travel in New Orleans, not too bad that you got there. That’s definitely a destination for a lot of people.

Adam Dalton 26:23
It’s pretty cool. Yeah, yeah. Oh, it’s my favorite location to travel to is Lisbon in Portugal. It’s absolutely beautiful. And it’s incredible city. It’s just a beautiful place. And one place I’d love to get to is Hawaii. So I’m hoping they’ll be able to go there at some point in the next couple of years.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 26:45
I’m sure they need some training or something.

Adam Dalton 26:48
We got to have some customers out there, right?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 26:51
Absolutely. What is the biggest thing you wish folks knew about the future of the workforce or workplace?

Adam Dalton 26:59
I think the biggest thing I wish folks knew about the future to workplaces that computer science, robotics coding will be required, you’ll be required to have at least a basic knowledge of how this stuff works, and for the future of work. But you won’t have to know exactly how to do it, you won’t have to know how to write lines of code on, you know, a dark screen your green text or Matrix style coding, it’s just you’ll have to have a brief understanding of how this stuff works. And that this, this stuff isn’t here to to make our lives worse. It’s here to make our lives better, and and in that change can come growth.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 27:36
Yes, yes. What’s the pet peeve of yours?

Adam Dalton 27:41
A big pet peeve of mine is people, people saying you can’t do it. Because it’s too hard. It’s too complicated. It’s just this, it’s just this topic for a specific type of person to figure out. And I just, I just that annoys me, because I’m like, Hey, I’m more of a business focused individual, you know, I’m a CEO of a company. And at the age of 23, we were able to start a business using the skills we’ve learned in computer science, and succeed with our business, and have, you know, amazing staff and create jobs and create employment and create impact in our local community, because of the skills we learned by building a holding company. And so that’s why that annoys me, because I’m like, well, it’s not just about the coding, it’s about you. Number one, you can figure it out, you can do this. The skills that you learn the problem solving, the creative thinking, all that stuff, you can apply that to make your life better, your family’s life better, your communities better, and the list goes on. And so yeah, turn it into a positive.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 28:43
I love that the transferable skills, you are an example a living example of how coding and everything can translate into your future career. Exactly. That’s a great example. What’s the passion you bring to imagine without a fight?

Adam Dalton 29:01
It’s a great question. I have a real passion for making an impact on students lives through honest work, and through teamwork. And I have a real passion for bringing together a group of people that we have in our team and our broader team, even our customers, you know, bringing people along on this journey, and being passionate about empowering young people to learn new skills. And personally because the journey I’ve been on with my co founder, Evan, I have a real passion for using skills learned and in computer science education, and applying them to entrepreneurship and creating products and services that make the world a better place and creating a better financial future for your family and your community. And so I have a huge passion for bringing those skills those four C’s to life for different reasons than just learning how to code be a programmer?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 30:01
Absolutely. What’s your favorite thing about coding?

Adam Dalton 30:05
My favorite thing about coding is that you can sit down, and then five hours later, you can have this product that has never existed before. I feel like I used to love woodwork. And you know, it’s the probably the closest thing to being able to create, you know, something out of nothing. But recoding. It truly is. It’s like if you start off with a blank sheet, and all of a sudden you have this product or service or website or whatever you may be building the ability, just create whatever you want that your fingertips is an extremely powerful concept that I that I have connected with.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 30:38
Yes, I know, Western, what is something that most people don’t know about? You? That’s

Adam Dalton 30:45
a great question. We’re very hard on Township. So just on that interesting, but I will say, so one thing that a lot of people don’t know about me is that when I was younger, I come from a quite a musical family. My mom is an extremely talented singer. My brother is incredibly talented singer, songwriter plays multiple instruments, adult my brothers actually play guitar. And I decided when I was younger, so I’m the eldest of three. And I decided when I was younger, that I wanted to learn piano. And about four weeks into the lessons, the piano teacher actually rang my parents and says, This is a waste of money, he’ll never be able to play piano, you need to stop and add your she was right, I was terrible. I never, I was never gonna be able to play piano. So there’s something that people don’t know about me. I’m a failed pianist.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 31:39
We can’t be good at everything. Can we?

Adam Dalton 31:42
No exactly what you’re good at?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 31:45
Absolutely. And play to our strengths. Exactly. So I like to conclude my interviews with a magic wand moment. Adam, if you had a magic wand, what would you create for our teens and tweens? Regarding their learning experience?

Adam Dalton 32:05
Believe it or not, it’s gonna be something different to what you’d expect, been speaking about computer science and math. But if I could, you know, create a, you know, magic wand, what can we give to our, you know, our teens, or, you know, the young people today, it’s tools to help them with their mental health. And I think for me, I’ve seen it a huge amount is mental health is a massive issue. Here. For young people, it feels like COVID, so much pressure, building up social media, you know, pressure, pressure pressure, to maintain these external images, and everyone’s validating their own self identity on other people’s judgment. And young people are struggling. And it’s, it’s a distributor, their hosts. And I know that that I feel like more, more should be done about mental health. And if I could do one thing, with a magic wand to be, can we solve as many mental health problems as possible, with young people out there, because I think it’s important that we all take a step back and realize what’s happened over the last few years. What’s happened over the last couple of years. And what world we’re living in now, is that young people have grown up in the same environment that that even I grew up in. And I’m 23, it’s like, well, you know, in the space of six to 10 years, young people are growing up on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, all this stuff. And there’s all these pressures from society, pushing down on these young people that are just trying to learn. And meanwhile, the education system probably need some reforms to help these these kids find where they want to be, and focus on their mental health. So that would be what I do is a magic wand for us to help young people with their mental health.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 33:46
I completely agree. And I also think that you’re doing that. Because to me, we don’t use this word in education, this is a four letter word, and you never use it. But really, when I think of the kids that aren’t making it in school, or are going out and harming themselves or others, there’s a lack of love. You know, they feel invisible, they feel unworthy. And when you do group projects, when kids have a chance to collaborate, when they work on that communication, then they’re not invisible. So what you’re doing is saying, let’s get out of this. Everybody just has this textbook, put their head down, you know, memorize, take the test, and let’s create together, that togetherness is so good for mental health. So I think indirectly, Adam, you are definitely a part of the solution. And I applaud your big heart because I think there’s nothing more important than the mental health of our youth.

Adam Dalton 34:41
It means a lot to me, personally and professionally. And that’s something that we’ll continue to try and do as much as we can every single day when we come to work. So if we can have a positive impact on that, that’s that’s a good thing. And hopefully, there’s there’s I know there is 1000s if not millions more teachers that care about the exact same thing. So more or less of that. told me.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 35:01
Absolutely. Adam, thank you for being a guest today it was a pleasure having you on

Adam Dalton 35:07
thank you so much

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 35:17
isn’t it impressive that Adam and his success with Imagine Robotify demonstrates how important it is for our schools to help students access their creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking skills. These skills are definitely transferable. And our millennials have lots of great ideas and lots of world problems that they can be applying these skills to. I know in Washington state that we don’t have enough skilled stem trained workers to handle the STEM jobs available. We need to be giving students tools to fill the needed space in the workforce, and to become entrepreneurs and create solutions to many of our present problems and needs. accessible programming to teach coding to kids through immersive 3d work on basic Chromebooks sounds like a needed solution to the problem of accessibility and lack of coding skills faced in many of our secondary schools. Go Adam and Evan Adams values shine through, I really appreciate that he has a passion to impact students through honest work and teamwork. With so many conflicting messages that our youth face, in part due to such an emphasis on screens and social media. Having a wholesome role model who is young and relevant, is very important. Adam is that person. And he struck very near to my heart when he used his magic wand wish to support improved mental health for our youth.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 37:06
As some of you know, random violence struck very close to my family two years ago, we are still grieving such a tragic and avoidable loss of life. When we think about shootings and deaths, and suicides, I can’t help but think of the people who would be alive today, if there were more of an emphasis on all of our youth feeling loved and valued. My micro school focuses on students being seen, heard, valued, and then as a result thriving. Yes, test scores and knowledge is important. But nothing is more important than a foundation of love for our youth. Adam, you are wise beyond your years. Thank you for shining such a bright light, and paving the way to accessibility encoding that all of our youth can access to be prepared for what the future will unfold. And, as always, thank you wonderful listeners for being a part of the education evolution.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 38:29
If you are finding yourself thinking, I need to do this in my school. Let’s talk about it. I consult and also have a book TEDx talk an online course to support starting learner driven schools and programs. My goal is to help schools and individuals find new innovative solutions to reaching every student. Let’s create an action plan together. Visit educationevolution.org/consult to book a call and let’s get started. Education evolution listeners, you are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen, heard, valued and thriving. We need you. Let’s go out and reach every student today. I’d be so grateful if you’d head over to your podcast app to give a great rating and review if you found this episode valuable. Don’t wait. Please do it right now before you forget. I really appreciate it. Thank you listeners signing off. This is Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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