NEW HAVEN — It was a race of the robots at New Haven Elementary School recently, when two classrooms teamed up for a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activity.
Second graders in Lorie Spaun’s classroom and fifth graders in Kira Northup’s classroom buddied up to build, program, and ultimately race the robots. It was a part of the teachers’ STEM week.
“It’s beneficial to pair second grade students with the fifth grade students to encourage peer learning and create student centered environments,” Spaun said.
The first day, students were split into groups to build the LEGO robots. The robots were purchased last year with grant money from the Robert and Louise Claflin Foundation, according to Spaun.
The second day, the students used laptop computers to program the robots to move forward, backward, and make noises. The students were not only assisted by their teachers, but also by four Tiger Men who came into the school to volunteer. They included Dan Riggs, Tom Grimm, Isaiah Pauley and Gary Fields.
The children then took the robots into the hallway for the race finale. As the robots sped down the hall, the students cheered on their favorites.
Both teachers said they hope to spark their students’ interests in STEM careers in the future.
“The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects STEM related jobs to grow significantly in the upcoming years,” said Northup. “I feel the earlier students are exposed to these types of projects and activities, the better.”
The teachers also held individual classroom projects throughout the week that they learned while attending a STEM conference in California.
Spaun’s class made circuits to make an LED bulb light up. She engaged her class before the lesson using the books, “Orion and the Dark,” and “How Things Work: Lightbulbs.”
Northup’s students were introduced to various STEM games and technology, including Ozobots, Cubelets, Osmo and 3D pens. They were also challenged to build canoes for the main character in the book they were reading, “Island of the Blue Dolphins,” in order to hold supplies. Using Styrofoam cups, craft sticks, aluminum foil, coffee filters and tape, the students had to build a boat that would float and hold marbles. Northup said the winning boat held 107 marbles.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.