I love how my high school students engage with each other and me. I am a new teacher, transitioning from a career in high tech (computer chip design). Although these students come from varying socioeconomic backgrounds, we still work together well. Our school does not just focus on common core, but also knows that many cognitive skills are required for success in college and in their careers.
Working in a school that bases 70% of the grade on project based learning is highly rewarding and makes the teacher work load easier as the students are self-directed learners.
The challenge lies in that our school district is made up of charter schools. Our schools serve a high ratio of special education students and English Language learners. I learned from last year that many of my students have no experience with robotics.
The students in the school where I teach have never had the opportunities of LEGO robotics summer camp or after school programs. When I surveyed my class, I found that 2 have actually seen an Mindstorms EV3 robot before.
I know that if I told my students that they would be in a programming class or a physics class, they would (and have) tell me that they aren’t smart enough to do this work.
Instead, using the Mindstorms EV3 will let them gain these experiences through building and programming the EV3, which uses LEGOs that are familiar to them and so allows them to be open-minded to their own success.
In a club I ran at elementary school with a similar demographic, a student was programming the robot so it would drive into a plunger that activated a small car. The student was having trouble due to a low speed of the robot, therefore not enough force. All of a sudden, his eyes lit up as he repeated F=mA over and over.
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