Building Confidence Through LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3
K-5 Technology Teacher
Gateway Science Academy South
St Louis, Missouri
Eric Knapp is a STEM Instructor at Tucker Middle School in DeKalb, Georgia, and he is building confidence in students through STEM.
Knapp had a student join the semester late and therefore did not have a group. He asked the student if he would want to work on his own and the child replied, “I’m not smart enough to build a robot by myself.” Three days later, through the familiarity of the LEGO® brick and the simple step-by-step directions with LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3, the same student was building and programming his robot to navigate Knapp’s classroom maze with confidence and enthusiasm. “What is most striking about this student is that he did not conclude that robotics is easy; instead he came to the conclusion that he is smart and capable. That’s awesome! This represents a fundamental change in how he views his own intelligence which will have a lasting impact into adulthood.” says Knapp.
“I think the value of STEM does not always lie in the outcomes we are currently measuring, but in the skills students are building for their futures,” says Knapp. His curriculum integrates soft skills, such as relationship building through conflict resolution, communication, cooperation and collaboration. Knapp sees his English Language Learners also doing well with LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 because of the pictorial nature of the product and the lessons in math acting as a universal language between him, his students and STEM.
I think the value of STEM does not always lie in the outcomes we are currently measuring, but in the skills students are building for their futures.
K-5 Technology Teacher, Gateway Science Academy South, St Louis, Missouri
Through a partnership with a local electric transmission company, Knapp uses LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 to introduce his students to circuitry. On a field trip to a power station, the class observed the equipment used to repair and maintain the power grid. Before working on power lines, technicians use robots to switch the circuits off due to the high voltage. In the classroom, the students replicated this robotic challenge using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 by creating their own power grid which could be controlled by a remote operated circuit switcher. “It was a great example of connecting the community with academic outcomes.” They are connecting real world scenarios with hands-on projects.
In other middle school projects, Knapp’s class uses LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 to study waves, sound and angles with the sensors of the EV3 models. The students must design their EV3 model to pass through ultrasonic sensors undetected. After completing a series of labs they used their knowledge of waves to address the limitations of their EV3 models and design improvements. Through this lesson, students were challenged to problem solve using open-ended solutions and use robotics in a non-traditional format. “Exposure is huge and that’s one of the things you see with LEGO®Education. LEGO® Education really helps develop exposure to technology and take that exposure to the next level of curiosity and confidence.” Knapp continues, “It’s fun to see kids with different skill sets and strengths come up with equally effective solutions,” says Knapp.
With open-ended problem-solving, “there is a good that comes out of that, in that it puts a lot of teachers and students on a very similar level of learning together. Then you become the student alongside them which can create an exciting learning dynamic which keeps all parties engaged in solving the problem and creating something great,” says Knapp.
Learn more about LEGO® Education solutions that engage your students in Hands-On LEGO® Learning at LEGOeducation.com.