With his mom’s help and his school’s backing, Alisher Aminov is bringing LEGO education to the greater Lebanon Valley.
Yellow Brick Robotics is a nonprofit that educates kids in programming and physics using LEGO education. “We want to help kids have an open mind to all the world of STEM,” said Alisher.
When living with his family in Indonesia, Alisher went to a school (Mikroskil Robotics Institute) that used many similar concepts, which he found really powerful personally. “We wanted to see if we could plug into something here, and there wasn’t anything really,” he explained. Alisher is a twice-certified educator of EV3/Mindstorm robotics, and there’s a chance we’ll all be working for him someday.
“I had always been interested in business, and tried to create different businesses, and Yellow Brick comes out of that,” he explained. In December 2016, he approached his local library (Lebanon Community Library) about hosting a course.
The first class was June 2017, the first classes were super successful and Alisher says, “It was a room filled with joy and happiness throughout that hour,” said Alisher. The curriculum originally focused on simple machines, although it has grown since then, but that original experience helped Alisher start to see the much broader impact that the course has, and less as a business (and he sounds like a natural educator in the making).
Beth explained that her role is just as a helper. “For me, I do the driving, I do some of the managing of the files, that kind of stuff,” she explained.
In the fall of 2017, they ended up at HACC’s Lebanon Campus for 12-week courses with four different groups of kids.
Right now the effort is a labor of love. LEGO’s can be expensive, not to mention STEM education in general. But it can be a great gateway to different careers and opportunities, so Beth and Alisher felt it’s an important service for their family to provide.
In the past the Aminov’s have also done visits to Northwestern, summer camps (10 camps total all with different themes!), and are currently doing classes at the Lebanon Salvation Army and in Harrisburg at the Commonwealth Charter Academy (primarily a cyber school), which earlier this year awarded him a $10,000 grant for additional robotics. This infusion of equipment enabled a broader scope for the education program, such as gears and other mechanical devices. Alisher is now a regular feature of CCA marketing, no surprise there.
“We have a lot of parents with kids who have ADHD, cognitive delay, or autism, and we have a good success rate with these kids,” said Alisher, and noted that in some situations the benefit has been some great that they have worked with counselors and other partners to offer tuition breaks where most needed. The classes can bring out thoughts about careers, friends, school, with numerous opportunities to build self-esteem.
“These are things we couldn’t have even imagined when Alisher first started this,” said Beth.
If you are interested in supporting Yellow Brick Robotics, check out their website for contact info and more details. Registration will be officially open later this year for classes in February, but you can contact Alisher and Beth in the meantime for more info.
Updated 4:02pm with some additional clarification from Alisher and Beth.
Updated 9:40am 9/20 with more notes from Beth.