Tell us about yourself.
- My name is Daniel Lantz. I volunteer at the Y with their STEM program, specifically using Ozzobots. I do software development for Capital One for Android phones and I’ve been there for about nine months.
How did the Y and Capital One form this partnership?
- There was a grant proposal that was passed to bring STEM education into the YMCA After-School Program. This is a pilot at the Northside Family YMCA to start out and eventually it will expand. I got involved back in December when they didn’t have anyone to run the pilot. So, they asked me and a friend of mine to come and do a class and I’ve stuck with it. There was no material or curriculum so I did research and figured out what to teach these kids. A lot of it has been trial and error but the kids really seem to be learning and enjoying the program.
What makes this volunteer opportunity special?
- It feels good to be leading something. It’s cool that this will be something that could expand to other YMCA’s. I think it’s a really good thing that Capital One did to put money into teaching kids about STEM concepts without necessarily getting something in return. I love it and I want to be doing work that models it.
What’s something you think these kids are taking away from this experience?
- I don’t know the mind of a kid very well, but they’re definitely absorbing. They’re not necessarily going back to their parents and saying, “Today, we learned about the concept of graph theory or the traveling salesman problem.” Instead, they’re thinking, “We did that, and that made the Ozzobot do this.” It’s very simple, but they’re absorbing logic and critical thinking that will help them long-term.
What’s something you’re taking away from this?
- I like it because the area I live in is very different from the Northside community so this is a great way for me to open myself up to a new experience and get away from the things I know and get to know people in other parts of Richmond. It helps me have a better appreciation for all parts of the city. I really enjoy working with kids. I think they make me a better person.
National Volunteer Week is April 23-29. Consider celebrating with one of our many opportunities at the YMCA. Find the perfect opportunity for you here.