Nonprofit brightens Detroit 4th-graders future, teaches engineering, literacy

'Fun activities like these provide a spark for lifelong learning,' says CEA


DETROIT – The Beyond Basics Family Literacy Center transformed Wednesday into a small solar kit car manufacturing center.

The event had 40 fourth-graders from Durfee Elementary School work alongside 10 engineers from the Hyundai MOBIS Technical Center of North America to build solar kit cars.

The Hyundai Mobis Junior Engineering class is the first engineering literacy event of its kind at the new Beyond Basics Family Literacy Center located at Durfee Innovation Society on Collingwood Street.

“This engineering literacy enrichment activity helps children build vocabulary and comprehension in science, technology, engineering and math,” said Lisa Bastian, head of human resources at Hyundai Mobis, a Beyond Basics partner. “It was about creating moments of happiness and opening up a whole new world to these fourth-graders.” 

When the Hyundai Mobis engineers asked the children what they learned today, the engineers figured they would say they learned how to build a car. Instead, several students shared, “I learned I can be an engineer.” 

“Literacy in vulnerable communities is more than teaching children how to sound out words correctly. It’s about helping them breakthrough invisible barriers that overshadow their hopes and dreams and enables them to experience the world that exists beyond their neighborhood. Fun activities like these provide a spark for lifelong learning,” said Pam Good, co-founder/CEO, Beyond Basics. “We appreciate that Hyundai Mobis continues to be a great mentoring partner for Beyond Basics.”

This is the first time Hyundai Mobis has brought this activity to the United States after working with students in Korea and Frankfurt, Germany. The engineers specialize in research and development, autonomous driving, advanced engineering, electronics, software development and infotainment.

Two groups of 20 fourth-graders participated in the two-hour class and interacted with four guests from Korea. Each child built a car that they took home.

For more information, visit Beyond Basics official website here.