STEAM Education combines science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics to learn, explore and solve problems in new ways.
Many people remember my mother as a teacher, she taught in Fairfax County for three decades and retired at Lake Braddock. With her background as an educator, the Theresa Sondra Jacobs Foundation is focusing on Education.
With the emphasis on education; we are working with our amazing volunteers and currently building a new Interactive Astromechs Robotic Teaching System (I-ARTS).
Our New I-ARTS Program
The new I-ARTS program will be used in the STEAM programs in Northern VA and will be used to teach children the wonders of Robotics and prop building, through Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics. In addition to schools, the Theresa Sondra Jacobs Foundation is planning to bring this teaching system into hospitals to help children who are battling cancer, serious illnesses, have special needs and challenges. The special design of this system will allow children in wheelchairs to see up close how these robotic systems work. It is most important for all children to receive the benefits of the I-ARTS program and to give children the same intergalactic learning experience.
These interactive teaching tools that we build help fuel our mission to create an experience for children and adults who are battling cancer, serious illnesses, have special needs and challenges. We use the funds that we raise to build these new Interactive Astromechs Robotic Teaching Systems and props; we complete the experience by giving toys to the children that we visit.
To fulfill this mission, the TSJ Foundation has teamed up with the most talented group of Astromech/droid and prop builders to build the I-ARTS program. This program is designed to help children of all ages and skill levels understand the amazing world of robotics and building our props that we use to entertain those in need. In addition, the TSJ Foundation has partnered with the Hampton Road Droid Builders Club and their amazing volunteers. This partnership allows us to complete the I-ARTS program to a level so amazing for children. For more information, check out the Hampton Road Droid Builders Club! https://www.facebook.com/hrdroidbuilders/
TSJ STEAM I-ARTS Volunteers
Felix Tao – Felix has worked as an electro-mechanical engineer in the aerospace industry for over a decade and a half and has a background in electrical engineering, mechanical design, software engineering, and testing. He has worked on missions such as the Hubble replacement JWST for NASA, HTV4 supply vehicle for JAXA delivering payload to the international space station, Jason3 a NOAA mission to monitor ocean floor depths for earlier warning of tsunamis and many more missions in the civilian space arena. Focusing mostly space to ground communication systems in his career, he carries his knowledge into his various hobbies.
When not working in a lab you can find Felix working on building costumes and props used for various conventions or volunteer events. His love of Star Wars has also led him to organizations such as the 501st Legion who participate for various events such as charity events or just cheering up children going through a hard time through the use of Star Wars character costumes as well as the Theresa Sondra Jacobs Foundation who build experiences through the uses of props to bring smiles to children and adults of all ages and circumstances.
Matthew Hammer – Matt is experienced Droid builder and founder of the Hampton Roads Droid Builders. Matt has training as a biomedical equipment technician and grew up building boats and computers with his father. He retired from the army due to wounds sustained in Iraq and found droid building in 2010 and built several r series (R2) and founded the Hampton Roads R2 Builder’s club. For years it was just him and would do events on his own until the release of the force awakens and BB-8. The renewal of interest had others seek out an join the club and he changed the name to the Hampton Roads Droid Builders to incorporate all the different droids; his main area of expertise is the R series but have been doing a lot of work with BB-8. He has been building the Foundation’s fully functional BB-8 unit. The plan is that he will be building the R2 is to have a 2-3-2 mechanical design clear plexiglass skins removable outer shells for the legs, the R2 (R4-K5) unit will have an extra new programming station with several different Arduino based systems that can be unplugged and plugged back in. With R2 we can teach not only electrical but mechanical and optical we are planning to use a projection system to teach kids how it works. With so many different control systems including I2c, Bluetooth Wi-Fi the communications between mechanical and electrical are really well refined and for kids, watching somethings start as an electron a command and end as a physical robotic command is amazing. R2 D2 can be a basic robot or an extremely advanced, something as simple as a 3200 chip to control or to a fully functional desktop computer inside for complex response and all interactive.
David Ferreira – David has been involved in the competitive robotic world since 1996. During that time, David was able to learn and practice the skills of engineering science and technology. The robot was just the tool that brought people together. The true goal of the programs was to inspire the next generation of innovators.
Today David looks to inspire by bridging the gap between all age groups and physical abilities. (We all have a love of Star Wars, so let us show the world how its done) This has been the basis for his projects in recent years.
David had designed and create a fully function BB-8 that can Interact with the public like no other. Seeing the joy and happiness BB-8 brings to the public has driven him to make more exciting droids to inspire the next generation.
Jon Haag – Jon has been a lover of all things Star Wars throughout his life. Having been a member of the 501st Legion since 2016, he branched out into droid building in 2017 after attending Star Wars Celebration Orlando and seeing the many the droids on display there. Jon is heavily focused on leveraging 3D printing in the build process, having completed two iterations of his fully 3D-printed C2-B5 (the Imperial R-series droid briefly seen in Rogue One) and currently focusing on completing one of the latest droids in the Star Wars universe: D-0 from Episode IX.
Jon currently serves as one of the lead members of the Hampton Roads Droid Builders, with a focus on public relations and event coordination.
Josh Ward – Josh is one of the founding members of the Hampton Roads Droid Builders.
Neil Umayam – Neil is a Civil Engineer and also has a Career Day Presentation called Engineering in the Movies. This presentation has been taught to his son’s elementary school for the past 5 years. He is also part of the international costuming group 501st Legion.
Brandon Pyle – Brandon, or BP, is a Maker, Artist, Prop Builder, and Cosplayer. He makes custom Star Wars toy collectibles, prop blasters, & sports figures! He has drawn officially licensed work for Topps, LucasFilm, Upper Deck, Marvel Comics, Cryptozioc, Rick and Morty, Stephen Universe and DC Comics.
His cosplay began as a creative outlet but quickly transitioned to helping those in need. Whether that be financially or simply to help brighten someone’s day.
Also, he has worked with special needs children in physical education while at The Ohio State university. BP strives to help raise funds and run book, food, and school supplies drives for those in need.
Michael Mullins – Mikes expertise is in computers and Cyper Secuirty. He took all Programming, engineering, and Networking classes in high school. Was a volunteer at the BSA summer camp. He attended Western Governors University – Information Security & Assurance and ECPI University Richmond, VA Class of 2011 · Network Security and Management · Richmond, Virginia BS Net Sec. He has been a volunteer with the TSJ Foundation and has helped at a number of events over the past year.
Stephen Umayam – has been a volunteer with the TSJ Foundation for the past year helping construct the exterior structure of Turbo Laser. He is planning to go into the civil engineering field and has been an active member of the international costuming group 501st Legion.
Eric Jacobs – Eric is one of the founders of the TSJ Foundation. He has a passion for Star Wars and enjoys creating new ideas to add to the Foundation’s props and builds to help entertain and teach children. He painted most of the interactive props and did the exterior design work on the Turbolaser and Falcon using his mother’s art supplies that he inherited after her passing.
After losing his mother to cancer in 2017, he, his wife and daughter founded the Theresa Sondra Jacobs Foundation to help positively impact children and adults in need in the local community. He has been very active in the community, as the founder of the Cars and Coffee Dulles Landing, this weekly event has been an incredible platform to help raise money for other nonprofits and local and international organizations in need. Eric is also an active member in the 501st Legion, you may see him as a Tie Pilot or Darth Vader.
Eric has combined his passion for Star Wars, art design and prop building and vehicles into the tools the foundation uses to positively impact those in need and create as many smiles across the galaxy as possible. Going forward with the interest in STEAM and teaching, we can show young minds the behind the scenes up close look of how we create the amazing props, droids and vehicles.