"Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know." David J. Boorstin Struggling, collaborating, discussing, and arguing; students become "Smarter, Together" as they investigate problems and design solutions to answer the questions they generate through their team inspired projects
My students encompass a wide range of economic and ethnic backgrounds.
Many of our families struggle financially, with limited access to resources to encourage their children's curiosity about the world around them. As a result, many also struggle academically. In spite of these challenges, the students are active and interested in engaging lessons, especially lessons that allow them to interact with materials and use their ingenuity to solve real, self-generated problems. As a member of STOM (Science Teachers of Missouri) I strongly support the philosophy of challenging students to apply, not just memorize, the important concepts of science. I'm fortunate to work for a district which is fully embracing the STEM movement and encouraging teachers to design lessons to reflect these ideas. The materials I'm requesting will allow many more students to experience this style of learning directly as they design and modify programs to meet challenges they design together in their teams.
Students will investigate the question, "What code will instruct the robot to most efficiently solve my problem?" The question is deliberately open-ended, allowing for success among a range of student abilities. Many students have never worked with a robot before or had any coding experience. These students may design a simple problem such as delivering an object to a team mate across the room. Others are members of the school or a community robotics team, and will be able to challenge themselves and inspire their classmates with much more elaborate problems. Each team of students will create a problem they can imagine and describe the robot solving. They will then create code to instruct the robot to follow their plan. Throughout the project, students will be reminded of the engineering process of designing, testing, refining, and retesting. They will be encouraged not to be frustrated by struggles or unexpected outcomes, but to see these as a vital part of the process.
I attempted this project early in the school year, as an introduction to coding and the engineering process.
Students worked hard to design interesting problems and code that would model their vision. However, with only one robot, they were often left waiting for a turn to test their ideas. We had to resort to a class project in the end, to allow everyone to experience a simple program. The additional materials would give us four complete robot kits, allowing for teams of six to seven students.
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