In Third Grade, Learning Problem-Solving Through Robotics
With help from a CFEE grant, third-graders learned to steer a robotic vehicle and, in a way, steer their own learning as well.
The grant paid for 12 Lego Education WeDo 2.0 robotics kits, which include child-friendly software and programmable parts. For one exercise, students at Livingston Avenue School split up into teams of two to assemble a vehicle and program it to follow a course around the perimeter of a sheet of paper.
In addition to practicing math and coding, students honed some broader skills too.
“The biggest benefit of this grant was helping students to become problem solvers and critical thinkers,” said the grant applicant, Kimberly Scutieri Crowder, an enrichment specialist with the district’s Pathways to Excellence program for gifted and talented students.
In the classrom exercise, Crowder gave the students a brief introduction to the task and then turned them loose to figure out how to complete it.
“The students are in charge of everything. We push them to be as independent as possible, especially when tackling a problem,” she said. “In this unit, they're learning teamwork and collaboration. They're thinking creatively, they're taking risks, and they’re persevering through struggles. There’s so many benefits beyond technological skills.”
The robotics kits were piloted at Livingston Avenue and Brookside Place schools in the 2017-2018 school year in preparation for district-wide use in the year following.
“Working on this project, students are becoming 21st-century learners,” she said. “We’re so grateful for CFEE helping us to grow the next generation of scientists.”