NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - New Providence Middle School eighth  grade student Om Desai and his friends Gyan Ghoda and Siddhant Desai, as a part of Team AIRO, are recognized as 2018 MaPD (Making a Positive Difference) by Davidson Institute of Gifted and Talented for the community activities that they have been doing.

They have been teaching younger kids STEM related subjects and mentoring them for extracurricular activities and competitions, using a unique concept that they have developed, "Young Students Teach Younger Kids."  They were also recognized as MaPD in 2016 and 2017.

Click here to learn about their STEM learning offering for grade 2 to 8 students in preparation for the Tech Olympiad challenge. 

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Below is Desai's submission to Davidson Institute to apply for this recognition.

Hi, I am Om. I have been MaPD since 2016, and I am very proud of it. MaPD 2017: https://www.davidsongifted.org/yspw/Programs-Events/More-Ways-to-Connect/MaPD/Meet-the-2017-YS-MaPD and MaPD 2016: https://www.davidsongifted.org/yspw/Programs-Events/More-Ways-to-Connect/MaPD/Past-YS-MaPD/2016-YS-MaPD

I am fortunate to be friends with a few equally passionate students who are partners in my ongoing community activities as Team AIRO (www.airobotics.us) based on my concept of “Young Students Teaching Younger Kids”. I have been consistently expanding my community activities in terms of number of people involved as well as number and variety of programs we conduct. I would love to share some highlights of our recent activities with you all.

Mentoring: During 2017, we have (1) mentored elementary grade students to form a robotics competition team and they won two first prizes in John Hopkins University Robotics Challenge (https://patch.com/new-jersey/newprovidence/team-airo-shines-john-hopkins-university-robotics-challenge-2017), (2) mentored elementary grade students to take part in First Lego League (FLL) challenge where they won judges award for their project presentation (), and (3) mentored elementary grade students to submit their entry for New Jersey PTA reflections, where they won NJ state level awards (https://patch.com/new-jersey/newprovidence/stem-steam-using-programming-skill-become-nj-state-film-production-winners).

Rubik’s Cube: We have also developed a kids-friendly, very easy algorithm to solve Rubik’s Cube.  We taught 100 plus students starting from 1st grader to 8th grader, how to solve Rubik’s Cube using that algorithm. It was very satisfying to see how kids as young as 1st grader can solve a Rubik’s Cube their own, and gets excited with the prospects of one day starting to speed-solve it to eventually take part in Rubik’s Cube solving competitions. https://patch.com/new-jersey/newprovidence/stem-sport-revealing-stem-side-algorithm-sport-rubiks-cube

Programming: We had worked closely with JerseySTEM, (http://www. jerseystem.org/) a non-profit organization focusing on STEM activities around our town. We conducted Advanced Scratch Programming classes () as well as Mobile App Development classes in collaboration with JerseySTEM.

Live-Online: We have also started live-online classes, to expand our reach virtually globally.  The pilot program was very successful where students from California, UK, India and southern New Jersey were able to learn from us.

We are also preparing a few young students who would be soon trained to start teaching under our supervision initially and eventually their own.  I would love to see that my wish of creating a community movement of students of various ages to learn and trickle that learning down to the younger students by teaching them.

We have been keeping our Facebook account (https://www.facebook.com/AIROTeamUS) and our YouTube channel up to date with the help of our parents, and we regularly post activities and invitations, and share new found knowledge, news and events related to STEM. We continue to participate in many other online communities to share our knowledge and STEM ideas.

Thank you for considering me for the MaPD.  I promise to continue to give back to the community every year, as I love so much what I have been doing with my friends and making new friends in the process, along with continuously getting a lot of love, support and admiration from the parents in and around our small town in New Jersey.