Lego Prime kits, expansion sets and individual take-home kits to extend exploration and learning outside the classroom has CCISD elementary students developing their robotics skills thanks to a $750,000 grant from the Department of Defense Education Activity. The grant also funded stipends for teachers serving as elementary robotics club sponsors.
“Slightly more than half of the students in our robotics club are military connected, and the ones that are not directly connected have a friend that is,” said Williams/Ledger Elementary librarian Savannah Taylor, who also sponsors the campus robotics club program.
Taylor added: “Robotics has been an incredible journey for our students. My students were able to learn STEM skills, collaboration, and problem solving. The greatest joy is seeing their spark when they solve complex problems or get their codes just right. I cannot wait to see their skills improve next year as we all learn and grow together.”
The DoDEA Copperas Cove ISD codes grant, which promotes STEM learning for military-connected students, is now in its fourth year. With the funding, students were able to choose from a variety of robotics lessons including Strawbees, which are building kits with versatile connectors and building straws for bringing ideas to life by rapid prototyping; micro:bit v2 Go that contains a small coding board with light, temperature, movement, and sound sensors that enable students to code creatively; and the Lego Personal Learning Kit which comes with online activities that encourage students to build, tinker and experiment to develop their understanding of STEAM concepts.
“This is the first year of a re-generation of elementary and junior high robotics clubs that existed before the pandemic,” said Holly Landez, CCISD director of digital learning and innovation. “The primary goal of the current clubs is to generate interest among students in creative problem-solving, coding, engineering, and other STEM-related topics. Our hope is to expose students to the wonder of exploration as well as possibilities for future STEM-related careers.”
Clements/Parsons Elementary fifth grader Brayden Chase was one of 15 students who competed in the Hopper Race attempting to design and code his Lego robot to travel 10 feet. After the first round, students had an opportunity to modify their codes and designs to see if their robots’ performance could improve.
“We raced the bots and I won one of the races,” the 11-year-old said. “My friend and I built a tug-of-war robot. It had two motors and three wheels. We had some challenges at first, but we switched some things around on our robot and ours started to win. Our drag racer had a few issues, and it didn’t work well. We learned what to do better next time.”
House Creek Elementary teacher and robotics club sponsor Thad Shumaker said his students not only acquired technical skills but also gained real-world problem-solving experience, preparing them for future challenges.
“Their dedication and perseverance paid off as they constructed innovative robots and tackled complex tasks, demonstrating their ability to think critically and creatively,” Shumaker said. “The robotics showcase exhibited their growth, achievements, and the transformative power of the club, highlighting how military-connected students can thrive and excel in STEM fields.”
CCISD will use the final year of the grant funds to purchase additional Lego Prime kits and Expansion sets. The district is also planning for its elementary students to compete in area robotics contests in the 2023-2024 school year.
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