Last year at about this time, a few of my students and I wanted to learn how to make a robot. I had heard Gary Stager suggest robot building was one thing you could do with a laptop.
I had absolutely no experience or knowledge about making a robot, but I did learn enough to know that Lego Mindstorms NXT Software was a good place to start. Then I realized that besides lacking experience and knowledge, I also had no resources.
So, we temporarily gave up our dream of building a robot, and instead we learned to program on Scratch, which we thought was a step toward robotics.
Now, here we are just one year later. Things have changed, thanks to the State of Iowa’s Scale Up STEM grants. We received a grant to be part of the FIRST LEGO League and to receive a LEGO Mindstorms robot. Yesterday we took our robot, Roger, and competed in a regional FLL competition.
On Saturday during breaks in the competition, we dreamed of how to extend our learning. We want to spend a portion of our remaining grant to get another robot, so the team can get better, but also so more people can learn to program robots. We talked about trying to do programming during part of our exploratory class and then have our own competition among teams.
These discussions were happening at the end of our competition. This was on a Saturday. They got up before dawn and drove 1.5 hours to be there all day long. These kids are passionate, lifelong LEARNERS!
I can’t help but think of what wonderful things are in store for us next year!