Learning with robots at Willow Brook Elementary

·2 min read

Kindergarten students clapped and cheered as the Bee Bot reached its destination.

It was Fall into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Day at Willow Brook Elementary School. Working with Tennessee Tech students, these kindergartners gave the robots simple directions, moving the robots on mats that contained areas with different numbers and shapes. In the process, the students learned shapes, colors and basic addition.

Tennessee Tech University student, second from left, helped with Willow Brook elementary students Joe Flores Perez, from left, Torin Montgomery, Tristan Hertwig, and Malachi Barganier for the annual Fall into STEM on Wednesday, Nov. 17.
Tennessee Tech University student, second from left, helped with Willow Brook elementary students Joe Flores Perez, from left, Torin Montgomery, Tristan Hertwig, and Malachi Barganier for the annual Fall into STEM on Wednesday, Nov. 17.

"I was impressed with how well they did support each other," Tennessee Tech professor Leslie Suters said of the kindergartners. "The kids seem to be enjoying it and really cheering each other on."

She explained that this was just one of many programs with robots the Tennessee Tech students had organized and brought to the elementary school.

First graders had a different robot, the Ozobot, which followed lines on maps the children made of their homes and their routes to school.

Second graders used a different robot, Dash, to narrate life cycles of various animals and insects: ladybugs, butterflies, frogs and chickens. They looked up information for this project on their Chromebooks and made posters.

Tennessee Tech University student, right, helped Willow Brook elementary student's Nyle Sharon and Bennett Whitford for the annual Fall into STEM on Wednesday, Nov. 17.
Tennessee Tech University student, right, helped Willow Brook elementary student's Nyle Sharon and Bennett Whitford for the annual Fall into STEM on Wednesday, Nov. 17.

Third- and fourth-grade students had two different activities. Some used the Sphero robot to learn more block-based coding. The students programmed the robot to do different tasks.

Other third- and fourth-grade students used the Lego WeDo 2.0 to test the earthquake stability of buildings.

"We wanted to figure out how to get STEM technology into the hands of every student at Willow Brook," Willow Brook second-grade teacher Michelle Chenot told The Oak Ridger. She explained the Tennessee Tech students came up with the lesson plans.

Suters told The Oak Ridger the Tennessee Tech students benefited from the program as well.

"They're learning real life skills as teachers," she said. While she said the Tennessee Tech students were "nervous and anxious" at first, once they got started working with the elementary school students, "they have a good time."

Ben Pounds is a staff reporter for The Oak Ridger. Call him at (865) 441-2317 and follow him on Twitter @Bpoundsjournal.

This article originally appeared on Oakridger: Learning with robots at Willow Brook Elementary

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