HOUSTON – The robot walks across the table, bends over, picks up a LEGO block, stands upright, walks to the pile of blocks on the other side of the table and releases the block. Several bright-eyed 12-year-olds watch every movement, talking eagerly about what will happen next!
The distance the robot had to travel and every turn the robot would make was developed knowing the size of the table, the distance to the original block and the distance to the destination. Before the robot can even walk, the students had to configure it using software and dozens of small pieces. Should the robot walk like a man or roll like a truck? What sounds will it make as it performs various tasks?
Robotics accomplishes some of the most important skills that today’s students can develop: critical thinking, collaboration and problem solving.
Middle schoolers at The Lawson Academy are part of a program that expands their use of mathematical skills through robotic programming. Robots are one way that students learn about engineering in a way that feels to them like FUN.
Created in partnership with the K.I.N.D. Girls Mentoring Program, Academy student teams create robots and then demonstrate them to their peers. Student teams get to program, name and present their work. For these 6th, 7th and 8th grade students, the robotics program allows them to take an active role in their own learning. These students are presented with challenges and they solve problems, through collaboration, critical thinking, and utilizing the Engineering Design Process.
“I didn’t know that I could be a programmer at first. I think all the time about what we can make our robot do.” Not only do they learn how to program the robots, they are introduced to college and career readiness in the areas of technology and engineering.
Robotics is an intellectual “sport of the mind” where programmers play a key role in providing the artificial intelligence to the robots. As every student can tell you, robotics is fun and gives scholars an opportunity to explore science, technology, mathematics, and language even though it feels like “play!”
The Lawson Academy is committed to engaging students and making learning fun. This open enrollment public charter school accepts students in grades 6, 7 and 8. Boys and girls who attend The Lawson Academy benefit from small classes, a boys campus and a girls campus for single-gender instruction, free breakfast and lunch, bus services and a faculty of certified teachers.
Enrollment is free and every student who attends The Lawson Academy has demonstrated success in their high school and college careers. Call (713) 225-1551 for information or enroll online today at www.applyhouston.schoolmint.net.
Photo credit: Cheryl Lawson