As a classroom STEM teacher, my job is to help get my students excited about the practical applications of science, technology, engineering and math to their daily lives.
I teach 600 fourth and fifth grade students in Yukon, Oklahoma, which is a suburb west of Oklahoma City.
My students are very enthusiastic about STEM projects, but we have limited resources to purchase classroom materials to support STEM instruction. Last year and this year, I've sponsored an after-school "Makers Club" for students who want more time building and creating STEM projects. This year I had almost twice as many students apply as we have slots in the program. Our students come from varied socio-economic backgrounds, as our school has a diverse mix of families. STEM learning opportunities are very important to our parents and our community.
I want my students to use the Sphero robotic balls in the "Maker Studio" I've setup this year for my students in our second / adjoining STEM classroom. Students will learn not only how to navigate the Sphero ball through mazes they build with wooden blocks, but also learn to program or "code" using Sphero. There are Sphero applications which will let students create simple programs or macros for Sphero so it can act like a robotically controlled "rover" on another planet. I plan to give my students challenges to develop "mission programs" for Sphero to complete as if they are the NASA engineers back on earth doing research and exploring another planet.
I have seen the Sphero balls in action and know they have a high engagement factor for students. Sphero makes the abstract process of programming and engaging in "computational thinking" very concrete for students, and provides visible as well as fun ways for students to see the practical application of STEM skills they are learning.
This project and student activities with Sphero will help increase student engagement and interest in STEM.
It will appeal to girls as well as boys, which is very important. Students will develop both critical thinking and problem solving skills which will benefit them in their lives, and also develop more positive perceptions of STEM activities so they will hopefully choose to pursue more STEM studies and a STEM career in the future!
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