Robotics Programs Continue to Thrive in IUSD


Robotics Programs Continue to Thrive in IUSD Robotics programs continue to thrive in IUSD even while entering the last few weeks of the school year. Robotics programs began full force at Monroe Magnet Middle School in early march and just two months later the students embark on their first robotic competition, the Junior Botball Challenge. The exposure to robotics in middle school allows the students an easy transition into the opportunities to continue pursuing robotics education and experience in high school. Morningside high school robotics team is already preparing for their second season by recruiting Monroe Magnets. This will be the first class of graduates from Monroe to have taken hands on integrated lessons in robotics. With the support of the Limitless Academy, Monroe has ten robots available for the sixth, seventh, and eighth graders as well as a nationally recognized effective curricula for robotics education. Ms. Russell, Monroe’s Science Department Chair, and her team set out to create a location and plan of action in order to incorporate these resources into class activities. In result, there is a designated room for robotics education where each class receives four days a month of teaching in robotics. Robotics lessons are crafted around a specific challenge the students have to accomplish.

Students plan and record the progress of each challenge in their own personal notebook. The class collaborates to plan a pseudo code which the students then program into the robot in order for it to move. Ten robots allow for each class to work on their mission in groups of three to four. Students rotate through roles of controller, coder, recorder/analyst/timekeeper in their groups. In teams the students work together to plan, analyze, and troubleshoot through their challenge for the Robotics programs continue to thrive in IUSD even while entering the last few weeks of the school year. Robotics programs began full force at Monroe Magnet Middle School in early march and just two months later the students embark on their first robotic competition, the Junior Botball Challenge. The exposure to robotics in middle school allows the students an easy transition into the opportunities to continue pursuing robotics education and experience in high school. Morningside high school robotics team is already preparing for their second season by recruiting Monroe Magnets. This will be the first class of graduates from Monroe to have taken hands on integrated lessons in robotics.

With the support of the Limitless Academy, Monroe has ten robots available for the sixth, seventh, and eighth graders as well as a nationally recognized effective curricula for robotics education. Ms. Russell, Monroe’s Science Department Chair, and her team set out to create a location and plan of action in order to incorporate these resources into class activities. In result, there is a designated room for robotics education where each class receives four days a month of teaching in robotics. Robotics lessons are crafted around a specific challenge the students have to accomplish. Students plan and record the progress of each challenge in their own personal notebook. The class collaborates to plan a pseudo code which the students then program into the robot in order for it to move. Ten robots allow for each class to work on their mission in groups of three to four. Students rotate through roles of controller, coder, recorder/analyst/timekeeper in their groups. In teams the students work together to plan, analyze, and troubleshoot through their challenge for the lesson. Ms. Russell the science department chair notices, “The kids are very motivated in their robotics lessons. Right when they come through the door they’re focused and interested in the lesson of the day. I see them get excited when they succeed in their missions.” Robotics activities give students a chance to collaborate with their peers in applying a combination of subject knowledge. Ms. Russell notes that the students have to factor in concepts such as friction Robotics Robotics from p. 1 from science classes or angles from math classes. “There is a hype and friendly competitive nature about the class. Robotics is a new activity to make math and science learning more fun,” she says.

Teachers like Ms. Russell even stay in the robotics room at lunch for students who want more practice with the robots. On April 29th the students embarked on their first robotics competition, the Junior Botball Challenge. Six teams of students travelled to Providence High School in Burbank with Ms. Russell and competed in several challenges similar to their lessons from class. Each student received five champion buttons from successful challenges! Middle school curricula gives the students a foundation of knowledge about robotics, such as how to program a robot to move through coding. IUSD Executive Director of Secondary Support Services, Dr. Reginald Sirls, explains, “The introductory level curriculum the students are exposed to in middle school leads well into the more advanced level competitions taking place in high school.” In Morningside and Inglewood High Schools have extracurricular robotics teams that design and build their own robot to compete in field games against other schools. This gives students an open field to navigate their education with their own interest in robotics. Engineering and programming courses at the high school level equips students with the information to begin designing and creating their own robots. As Monroe began their first year of implementing robotics curricula, IUSD high schools began their first season of robotics competitions with First Tech Challenge. Morningside robotics coach and Algebra 2 math teacher, Mr. McKee, confesses the teams started their first season stronger than they ended it. He reflects on the year with gratitude towards the mentorship of the Bomb Squad from Loyola High School, and ready to help the team remain focused for next year. “I challenge the students with: Can we do better? Can we build a better robot? My plan for moving forward is to minimize the amount of time students spend on their cell phones so they stay on task,” says Mr. McKee. The eighth graders to graduate from Monroe in 2017 will be the first to have this foundation going into high school. Morningside High School Robotics team coaches are excited and already have recruited several incoming freshman for their team.