Exploring robotics in options class



Students turn the robot on.

Sarah W (12)

In August 2015,  Social Studies teacher Mr. Baker and Head of Science Mr. Griffiths, created a new robotics Options class for students in grades five and six to raise interest in coding and robotics through the use of Lego Mindstorms.

Mrs. Griffiths (MS Principal) and Mr. Griffiths contributed to bringing the robotics into middle school Options. Mrs. Griffiths, Mr. Griffiths, and Mr. Baker were keen on introducing robotics as programming experience is becoming valuable in recent years. On the launching of this new class, Mr. Griffiths said, “We wanted to try something new and something interesting. I think that some of the key things you look at nowadays are coding and robotics.”

The videos on the Sacred Heart Vimeos page show students in the class building robots and working through several challenges by using GUI (software  that makes programming easy). Students eagerly learn through trial and error as they use sonic sensors to find distances and change speeds, navigate through a maze, and apply light sensors to follow a black felt tip road. Mr. Baker said, “When you write code, it’s either going to work or not. If something does happen, but it goes the other way, you can fix it. It’s rewarding.” Not only does the class inspire students to celebrate their inner curiosity and drive, the robotics class encourages pair-work, pair-building, and pair-programming. The teachers hope that the students will gain interest in programming and how machines work.

 They decided to open the class to 5th and 6th graders as it was a small group, early in their schooling, and allowed both teachers and students to explore. Mr. Baker said, “For Middle school students, it is a window into how the automated systems around us work.”  

The innovative class plans to expand to 7th and 8th grade Options classes. They also are looking at opening a class for high school students in a few years.

As students build Lego Mindstorms along with virtues of curiosity, logic, persistence, and teamwork, let us cheer for the growth of potential STEM researchers.