Learning Takes Off When Math Meets Robots
St. Michael School of Clayton
St. Louis, MO
Can math be the highlight of the school day? In Meaghan Barron’s technology classroom, it is. Her fourth and fifth graders at St. Michael School of Clayton in St. Louis are learning the basics of robotics and computational thinking at the same time—in an exciting, problem-solving environment using WeDo 2.0 and LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3. As her students problem solve—measuring distance, then programming their robots to span the distance and stop—Meaghan poses increasingly harder questions. With each new problem, students are building their basic foundation of computational thinking skills.
With robotics as part of the curriculum, learning has taken off. “It kind of leveled the playing field,” Meaghan says. “Students are now listening to their classmates’ opinions and ideas. They are learning from each other.” Students are even looking for ways to build their skills further, with learning rotations and combined, multi-group challenges.
Meaghan has seen nothing short of transformation in some students as they use WeDo 2.0 and LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 lessons. “Students who are shy, who don’t ever want to take risks, they’re willing to do it with their robots,” Meaghan says. “Others have found focus they never had.” One such example is a couple of students who were often off-task. When Meaghan brought LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 into the classroom, they became instrumental in bringing the class together. With a question from these two students, Meaghan would have the class problem-solve as a group, engaging every student.
Meaghan has seen her students develop affinity and enthusiasm for math. “As their EV3 and WeDo 2.0 robots move across the classroom, they begin to see real-life applications of angles, distance, and measurement,” she says, “and they understand why they are learning those things.”
With her school’s support of experimental and project-based learning, Meaghan can allow her students to learn by exploring the subjects they find most interesting. “They are kind of the guides,” she says, “which at times is challenging because you don’t know where they’re going to go with their learning. But you’re right there, going along the path with them, which can be very rewarding.”
“I just want my students to have fun and figure out that coding is not this big, far-off idea, and that anyone can be successful at it,” Meaghan says. The basic foundation of math, science, and engineering concepts her fourth and fifth graders are learning with WeDo 2.0 and LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 is boosting their confidence in robotics and showing them the possibilities in STEM.