Educator Spotlights

Educator Spotlight, Mayra Martinez at Alvin ISD

May 2, 2024 — 3 minutes

All Aboard the STEM Bus!

All aboard the STEM bus at Alvin Independent School District, where DroneBlocks products are becoming a favorite mobile STEM offering to hundreds of students throughout the Houston, TX, area. We connected with Mayra Martinez, Family and Community Engagement STEM BUS Specialist at Alvin ISD, to chat about Drones and Quadrupeds and their place on this traveling STEM road show.

Though Mayra doesn’t drive the bus (“I get asked that question all the time,” she jokes), she is responsible for writing and developing the district’s STEM curriculum and fitting the bus with technology. Mayra was an elementary school Math and Science teacher when she was tapped for an opportunity by the district’s forward-thinking Director. “She was looking forward to how we could equip our students with 21st-century skills and introduce a different level of learning and curriculum, mainly focusing on STEM,” Mayra explained. The idea was to retrofit an old school bus with technology that could travel from campus to campus to make the most of a focused investment in technology. With the help of a handful of local and corporate sponsors, a beautiful STEM bus with cabinets, books, several computers, and…now Drones and Robots were created! Mayra was tasked with developing the curriculum from the ground up and researching the right technology to help students apply what they are learning in the classroom.

When Mayra first loaded drones onto the bus – she found they were quickly getting damaged, lost easily and were too clunky to incorporate into coding lessons. Being that the STEM bus travels up to 22 different campuses per year – she needed a smoother solution. She found DroneBlocks after a web search, and it was a match made… “My biggest thing is curriculum, I need a very good platform, and DroneBlocks has step-by-step videos, and I don’t need to reinvent the wheel or search YouTube. Everything I need is right there.” The reliability factor became something that Mayra came to praise over time “The customer service with you guys has been amazing…number one. I email, and right away, someone is there to troubleshoot with me, which means the students don’t miss a beat. It’s not just some instructions in a tiny little booklet!”

The Alvin ISD STEM Bus serves students from elementary school all the way to high school. In one week, the bus reaches about 100-200 students who may not have regular access to STEM tools. Once aboard, Students spend about 15 minutes at each station on the bus for a total of 45 minutes of activity. Mayra will revolve the full experience around a subject…like space, to connect the different applications of technology and draw similarities to what they might be covering in class. 

“Every year I like to bring something new to the bus, and the first thing I do is check out what DroneBlocks is offering. They are always well aligned with what the kids want to be doing.” This year, Mayra was wowed by the Unitree GO2 and thought it could really set their district apart by bringing such technology to students who may have never seen anything like it before. “The Unitree GO2 I really had to sell to my director,” Mayra explained. “I told them we are going to be the only ones here in Houston with the Unitree GO2, and it works with Block Coding and leads to Python.” As Mayra turned her main focus to equipping her students with skills in Python, she felt the Unitree was the way to do it. “My goal is to teach them Python, so right now, I’m taking the class in Python to feel comfortable, and my assistant is watching all of the DroneBlocks demo videos for the GO2, and then we will exchange skills and start building lesson ideas.” We can’t wait for the GO2’s road trip around Texas and to reach hundreds of kids. It seems Mayra can’t wait either – “I’m so excited for the Unitree GO2; it is going to be our biggest highlight!”

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