Kindergarten through eighth grade students at The Learning Center Charter School are no strangers to technology. They regularly use everything from computers to 3D printers. However, students are especially excited to become more familiar with the school’s brand new Sphero Mini robots.
Monica Matthews, an Academically and Intellectually Gifted (AIG) licensed educator at the school, loved introducing the robots to her AIG students. They explored how to use drag and drop code to make each robot move in the direction they wanted. The kindergarten through second grade aged students used the drive function and practiced controlling the robot to knock over mini bowling pins.
“Our Sphero Mini robots provide a toolset that has unlimited potential to weave hardware, software and community engagement together,” said Matthews. She added that while computer coding is a key 21st century skill, the robot and its app go beyond code by incorporating robotics and technology with collaborative STEAM – science, technology, engineering, art and math – activities.
“These robots are proving to be a whole lot of fun and a fantastic tool to nurture students’ imaginations,” said Matthews. “I look forward to seeing all the creative ways teachers across campus use them in their classrooms.”
The Outdoor Survival elective consists of fourth and fifth graders learning the basic necessities for outdoor activities such as hiking and camping. Their leader, Sean Bain, teaches them what to do in case of emergencies in numerous outdoor situations. Below are examples of what these students are learning.
How to properly wrap a broken extremity, stop severe bleeding, and secure impaled objects in the body.
Why and where to build an emergency house (lean-to)
Picking the correct material
Why its important to get out of the environment at a quick pace
AWARE OF SURROUNDINGS
Always be aware of surrounding dangers
How to mark or remember ways you came into the woods.
Closest water source
Recently, students in fourth grade rotated through stations exploring properties of matter as they began their rock and mineral unit. Scientists depend on known properties of matter to identify unknown substances and these fourth graders are proving they are true scientists!
Before Thanksgiving break, second graders at The Learning Center Charter School completed a Project Based Learning (PBL) project focused around the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
PBL is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge.
The second graders first learned all about the history of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Once they had a solid understanding of the historical perspective, students researched past float designs. They were then challenged to design and construct their own balloon floats.
Stephanie Hopper, second grade teacher, said, “These students diligently worked on academic standards that included math, science, social studies and language arts during our Thanksgiving parade PBL project.” Hopper added that the genius behind PBL is that the students just thought they were having fun.
“The PBL approach ensures that students learn material with both breadth and depth because students are so engaged in what they are doing,” said Hopper. She added that the PBL approach provides a means for integration across multiple subject areas and allows students to better understand a topic through the physical act of doing.
Upon completion of the project, students shared their work with the entire school by conducting their very own parade across the campus.
Ms. Katie and Ms. Emily collaborated to bring airplanes to young pilot enthusiasts.
They explored biplanes and created Christmas ornaments that clip onto Christmas tree branches. Students designed and decorated colorful biplanes after looking at traditional plane designs.
Students exclaimed this was the best science ever- especially since they will follow up with fairy house building!
Fourth grade students recently learned about events leading up to the French and Indian War. As part of their studies, they were tasked with composing a letter to a friend or family member back home describing their circumstances and environment as a soldier in the war. The students then tea stained the parchment paper and sealed the envelope with a wax seal. Their teacher, Ms. Carrie, said it was so interesting to hear the detail that students included in their letters. It was clear to her that the letter writing process caused her students to become invested in the history and understand it on a deeper level.
Safety glasses are a must if you are a kindergartener at The Learning Center Charter School. That’s because when learning about the engineering concept of levers, these young students used hammers, nails and bolt cutters.
A lever is a simple machine that makes it easier to lift heavy objects or magnify the force made by our hands alone.
Instructional Technology Director at the school, Franklin Shook, visited the kindergarten class in October to teach students about this engineering concept. Students learned about levers by making seesaws, using hammers to get nails out of wood and using bolt cutters.
Kindergarten teacher, Stephanie Wilson, said, “Kids are never too young to start learning about engineering.” She added that engineering calls for students to apply what they know about science and math and their learning is enhanced as a result.
“Since engineering activities are based on real-world problems and technologies, they help students see how disciplines like math and science are relevant in their lives,” Wilson added.
Mary Jo Dyre, Executive Director for the school, said, “For many years, we have worked diligently to make our curriculum and campus a STEM environment.” STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.
“It doesn’t surprise me one bit to walk into the kindergarten class on any given day and see them doing these engaging, hands-on activities,” added Dyre.
Students in sixth through eighth grades at The Learning Center Charter School have a wide variety of electives to choose from each week. This semester one such elective is called “Tech Ed” and involves all things technology, engineering, and making.
Under the supervision of Franklin Shook, Instructional Technology Director for the school, students in this elective have been building robotic cars. They first learned about internal computer hardware components. Then the students spent time dismantling old computer technology to see the similarities in basic components including power supply, control boards and switches. They have been spending most of their weekly meeting time assembling robotic cars that they will eventually program to perform tasks like driving, object avoidance, responding to a TV remote and line tracing.
Shook plans to teach the group the basic function of everyday items via this hands-on STEM approach through building video games from old computers, 3D printing and additional robotics work. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.
Shook said, “I’m excited to be able to share technology skills with my students. It is fun to be able to watch their excitement as they learn something new.”
Sixth graders at The Learning Center Charter School used state of the art technology to celebrate the holidays.
First, students designed cookie cutters as part of their studies of expanding ratios in math class. Once designed, each student printed their cookie cutter on one of the schools several 3D printers. They used the cookie cutters in salt dough which ultimately became Christmas tree ornaments.
However, the class did not stop there. Each student also designed and 3D printed unique Christmas ornaments, sharpened their computer programming skills by writing computer code to move a robot along a desired course, and engineered pop-up Christmas cards.
Sixth grade math teacher, Kathleen Shook, said, “At our school we integrate state of the art technology into everything we do. Christmas was no exception.”
Shook added that having the means to take what starts as an idea all the way through to a completed project keeps her students engaged in the standard course of study required by the state but also makes her students thirsty for more.
“Having the technology at our fingertips means that I’m able to cover academic standards with impressive scope,” said Shook.
Shook added that her students are already gearing up with ideas, plans, designs and projects for the school’s fourth annual School Maker Faire scheduled for March 14, 2019.