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Mentoring Program uses ROBOTC and VEX IQ to Teach STEM and Connect with Military Families

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Tyrrek Grizzle poses with a robot he constructed during the robotics summer camp. The camp is part of an ECU partnership that supports elementary and middle grades students from military families in eastern North Carolina. (Photos by Jay Clark)

Tyrrek Grizzle poses with a robot he constructed during the robotics summer camp. The camp is part of an ECU partnership that supports elementary and middle grades students from military families in eastern North Carolina. (Photos by Jay Clark)

We were delighted to hear about an inaugural weeklong robotics summer camp happening in North Carolina that is using ROBOTC, ROBOTC Graphical, and the VEX Robotics IQ system to help teach students STEM while keeping them connected to their military families. (One of the mentors was trained at the Robotics Academy last summer too!) Read the story and watch the video highlighting this program below!

Reblog from East Carolina University’s News Service

POSITIVE CONNECTIONS
ECU partners in Operation LINK mentoring program

Ten-year-old Tyrrek Grizzle took control of his paddle, maneuvering his miniature land mover with ease.

He and a teammate moved his robot across a grid and past an opponent to pick up as many green-colored blocks as possible and dump them in a coordinating green basket. The team that filled the basket with the most blocks in the three-minute competition won.

Grizzle attended an inaugural weeklong robotics summer camp through Operation LINK, an AmeriCorps school-based science, technology, engineering and mathematics mentoring program for elementary and middle grades students in eastern North Carolina. The STEM program, with a special emphasis on students from military families, will transition from an afterschool program to part of the regular school day this fall.

 


 

Offered this spring in Wayne County, the program aims to promote positive behaviors and success in school while keeping military youth connected to family. It’s a partnership between East Carolina University, AmeriCorps, military family support networks, veterans groups, community colleges and public schools.

The summer camp, held at Greenwood Middle School in Goldsboro, allowed students to make real robots from designs they developed in their afterschool program.

Counselors and campers used a box kit to construct a robot with up to 650 pieces. A software program (ROBOTC) developed at Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy gave the students the ability to control movements.

“We had fourth-graders writing code,” said Michael “Mike” Dermody, associate professor of cinematic arts and media production in the ECU School of Art. Dermody, who grew up in a military family, said “It’s amazing how quickly they adapt. It’s a very tactile and hands-on experience. They go in and test and modify it. There’s lots of activity between the computer itself and the robot.”

For Grizzle, a rising fifth-grader at Tommy’s Road Elementary School, taking his work from the computer lab to create a functioning robot is exciting. “Robots help you in a lot of ways,” said Grizzle. “They help us do things we can’t normally do ourselves.” Grizzle has cousins who serve in the military.

Amy Perry, left, watches as her daughter, Kayla Perry, works at the Operation LINK afterschool program held this spring in Goldsboro. Amy Perry is a technical sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, where she inspects aircraft for defects at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

Amy Perry, left, watches as her daughter, Kayla Perry, works at the Operation LINK afterschool program held this spring in Goldsboro. Amy Perry is a technical sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, where she inspects aircraft for defects at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

The pilot program will become part of the curriculum this fall at three Wayne County schools with a higher population of children from military families, said Lou U. Rose, Operation LINK coordinator in the ECU College of Education, which has facilitated the program.

“We will be able to impact more kids that way.”

Area teachers observed some of the program activities. “Some will do it as an elective in science and math classes,” Rose said.

“The beauty of this is they can tailor it and run with it and be creative. It brings relevancy in the real world, and maybe will get students interested in science.”

Michael Giddens, an AmeriCorps camp mentor who earned a teaching certificate in middle grades science and math from ECU in May, said students learned to collaborate and work as a team at the camp.

“The energy has been electrifying,” Giddens said. “Keeping them (students) engaged is a challenge in the classroom in the 21st century.”

One old-fashioned value students have learned has been patience, Giddens said, such as when broken robots have had to be re-assembled. Now poised to reach more students, the initial idea for the Operation LINK program was to create a way for military parents to interact with their children – via the web – while the parents were away from home. “It’s (been) a way to keep the child connected,” Dermody said.

USAF airman first class Eagan Nadeau pilots one of the student robots.

USAF airman first class Eagan Nadeau pilots one of the student robots.

Amy Perry’s nine-year-old daughter Kayla and 10-year-old daughter, Alexis, participated in the afterschool program. Perry, a technical sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, inspects aircraft for defects at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. The Perry family doesn’t have a computer, internet or cable in their home. So the program has helped support her girls’ interests in science and technology. “It works for us,” she said.

Perry said the counselors encouraged her daughters’ unique personalities. “It’s allowing them to have the space to be who they are,” she said. “Respecting others is important.”

Kayla Perry said she enjoyed the computer lab and making a virtual robot. “I like the teachers. All the time they think of cool things for us to do,” she said. “They always come up with these amazing ideas.”

Program activities have helped build relationships between mentors and students, and among students, said Virginia Harris, a retired teacher and military spouse who taught 23 years in several states and overseas.

“I’ve seen changes in the students, being able to work together and learning to follow rules better,” Harris said. “One of the main things they learn is you’re not an island. You have to get along with people in life. I think it’s difficult for little people to work together as a team sometimes.”

To learn more, visit www.ecu.edu/operationlink.

Logan Chase, 10, works on programming after a practice session with his robot.

Logan Chase, 10, works on programming after a practice session with his robot.

Reblog from East Carolina University’s News Service

Written by Cara Friez

July 24th, 2014 at 11:26 am

Robotics Teacher Appreciation Week Challenge

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RTAW2013_BigTeacher Appreciation Week is May 6th – 10th and we are celebrating! We LOVE all teachers and appreciate everything they do for their students! Here at the Robotics Academy, we have a special place in our hearts for robotics teachers, mentors and coaches, so this year we want to make sure they get the attention they deserve.

Do you know an amazing robotics teacher, mentor, or coach? Let us know who they are and why they are AWESOME! Send us your best story, pictures, and/or video about this person to socialmedia@cs2n.org. We will share several of these stories on the Robotics Academy blog during Teacher Appreciation Week. And the Top Three Stories, voted by us, will each WIN one Classroom Annual License for Robot Virtual Worlds for their teacher/mentor/coach!

Stories must be submitted by Wednesday, May 8th at 5pm Eastern Standard Time. We will announce the winners on Friday, May 10, 2013.

RTAW2013
 

Please include contact information (name and email/school phone number) for the teacher, mentor, or coach that you’re writing about so we can make sure to get their permission to publish their name on our site. You can send any questions to socialmedia@cs2n.org.

Written by Cara Friez

May 1st, 2013 at 6:21 pm