STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math) is a major push in today's education market. These are key skill areas where students generally struggle and may be far less inclined to pursue in upper grades at an academic level. I think it is important to get students engaged with STEM technology at an early age and to challenge students and present to them opportunities to explore and be successful with technology within the class environment.
Recently my board introduced us to VEX IQ Robotics, unfortunately I was unable to attend the roll out program but was able to get my hands on the first kit that came into my school and spent this past weekend exploring hands on with the kit at home to see how it worked and what it was capable of.
Overall I was left very impressed with the kit and its ease of use, easy to follow instructions, before giving to students we will need to implement a whole entire system of sorting and storing the different pieces (each kit contains over 850 unique pieces) and we will require a large desk or area on the floor as it takes up some room. These lessons and builds are not quick activities, these will last for days ongoing, I however think we will try a robotics day, I think staying fully engaged in the activities will bring better interaction then off again on again.
The builds themselves require some thinking but direction and images are very helpful, the accompanying website even provides 3D imagery assistance in building your bots.
Our plan beginning next week is working with my colleague in 7/8 we are going to be introducing programming in Minecraft EDU alongside VEX IQ robotics. When students are not building or programming the robots they will be working on programming inside Minecraft, both skills will build on one another and we hope they will complement their learning.
Stay tuned as I update how this program works and student feedback in the coming weeks.
Here is a clip of my success from this past weekend.