Robotics schooling has emerged as a highly visible indication of this developing student interest in STEM programming from the schoolhouses of Crown Point, Indiana. Presently, Crown Point High School hosts six VEX Robotic teams composed of 38 pupils who frequently compete in the country, regional and national/world degree. Additionally, the temperature for robotics has caught the eye of basic pupils at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School at which 22 pupils take part in the fledgling but booming app.
Growing by a little group of pupils in 2009, the fascination with robotics is fueled from the direction of Mr. Mark Querry, the groups’ instructor and coach. According to Querry, the courses add another dimension for students that”strengthens STEM learning along with also the VEX Robotics program” Besides the obvious benefits of applied math, physics, engineering principles and teamwork, Querry believes, “Robotics helps build the art of working with each other to fix an issue and finish a job. It demonstrates that failure may result in success if necessary”
Each year immediately following the Robotics World Tournament in April, the coaches and students learn of the new”match” for the coming year. Since the team has garnered dozens of awards around the state (including four Excellence Awards–the top award given at the state level) and has been named World Qualifiers on six consecutive occasions, Querry knows that”to become aggressive, the staff has to move all year.”
The effect on Querry’s students is multi-layered: providing opportunities to students who might not have”match” elsewhere; adding greater value to the”newspaper” of academic achievement with hands-on problem solving; developing strong project completion traits which carry over into all content areas; opening up opportunities for early entrance into college STEM-related programs; creating college and career pathways that often start with internships in technical engineering, manufacturing, mechanics, and more.
Principal Chip Pettit believes, “Offering contest teams from the VEX along with FIRST Robotics has supplied an excellent chance for pupils to research STEM initiatives. The pressure that is inherent in the contest increases the stakes for pupils. Additionally, the work ethic, teamwork and communication abilities which are designed as part of becoming included in aggressive team tasks serve students well as they peek in their school and career areas.” The team enjoys extensive parent, business and district support and is directly influencing the lives of younger students in the district.
Inspired by the success of the VEX Robotics program at CPHS and by the needs of their elementary students, Ms. Alycia Graczyk, fifth-grade teacher, and Mrs. Ruth Jostes, a second-grade teacher, created an elementary robotics program two years ago at MacArthur Elementary School. MacArthur, an Indiana 4-Star School and a National Blue Ribbon School, is a Title 1 building with the highest free/reduced lunch percentage in the Crown Point Community School Corporation at 46 percent. Looking to help their students get a head start in the world of STEM, the two teachers recruited and established teams using the VEXIQ Robotics system, a hands-on experience that allows younger students to explore and experiment with robot programming and building.
Coaches Graczyk and Jostes realized early on that their students, particularly those with less financial means, needed more opportunities to interact with STEM-related skills and ideas. Their team members problem-solve together, thus developing a life-skill for future success. The needed determination and perseverance become important markers on the path to college and career readiness. Important to the growth of the program at MacArthur is the addition of more robots, thus keeping the student-to-robot ratio smaller (three to four students per robot). The students create their own robot designs, complete detailed engineering journals, and present STEM research to teammates and coaches. Practice sessions are two times per week after school and one evening practice per month. This leads to competing in various meets at home and around the state. During the first year of the program, the team traveled to one tournament, but this year they have hosted two competitions and traveled to two more. Teams earn awards for effective communication with teammates and judges, displays of teamwork, the skill level of the robotics, STEM research projects and engineering techniques. Graczyk knows to participate in the team” shows pupils that with conviction and perseverance, every one of them is able to achieve anything and succeed as they go ahead in life and professions.”
The local Crown Point Community Foundation and CPCSC work to support the students in funding their robots and travel, but the most meaningful support comes from partnering with the CPHS students who mentor, instruct, troubleshoot and inspire their young admirers. The MacArthur team provides some of the first “feeder” engineers, programmers and drivers for the high school team. Principal Marian Buchko states, “Developing a VEX Robotics group is a massive undertaking for novices, parents and students and demands a substantial, meaningful commitment on everyone’s part.” According to the coaches, staff and parent support are invaluable to the team as these influential adults provide guidance through the steps of problem-solving, giving just enough support to allow students the”liberty to create answers to the issues that come up.”
Querry, Graczyk, and Jostes all agree that Robotics is offering opportunities for student engagement in STEM-related activities and providing academic accessibility and equity for students of various backgrounds, ages, and interests across the STEM curriculum. Whether the student is age eight or 18, the study of robotics is increasing the academic and personal capacity of youngsters who are experiencing real possibilities for their futures–futures based on effective communication and teamwork; tenacity and perseverance; and problem solving and project completion undergirded by solid applications of science, engineering, technology, and math skills.
Superintendent Dr. Teresa Eineman wholeheartedly believes in this robust STEM initiative: “Cooperative learning inside our Vex Robotic application is your winning, teaching, and studying approach of STEM from teacher-coaches Querry, Graczyk, along with Jostes. Our’winning’ team listing contrasts using many meta-analyses giving combined learning about the winning advantage over individualistic learning and learning. Please sneak our key to victory to STEM student learning”