STEAMing Through the Middle with Robotics is a program that will peak and propel the middle students interest in coding and robotics in the STEAM elective classes at North Tahoe School while addressing several of the Career Technical Education (CTE) Standards and 21st Century Competencies. The students in the STEAM elective classes (5th, 6th, 7th & 8th Graders) currently engage in block programming with the free online program Scratch (https://scratch.mit.edu/), which is provided to the public by the MIT Media Lab. The 6th, 7th & 8th Graders take that learning further by creating and interacting with the Lego Mindstorm robotics kits in using blockly programming in creating challenges for their Lego robots.
STEAMing Through the Middle with Robotics will expand upon the knowledge gained through block programming and allow the long term STEAM elective students (3 classes of 7th & 8th Graders) to take the next step in programming and robotics and to help prepare them for the Career Technical Education (CTE) Pathways (https://bit.ly/2UnnqDy) offered here in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. Parallax, a company based in Placer County and founded by local parent and entrepreneur, Ken Gracey, created the Cyber:bot Robotics Kits. These robots use the industry standard programming language of python. Parallax works in conjunction with National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC) (https://nicerc.org/) by offering free professional development tutorials for teachers and extensive curriculum for students. The Parallax robotics kits will provide several options to fulfill many goals in the STEAM lab while keeping the middle school students engaged in the design engineering process.
The tutorials and curriculum for Cyber:bots is quite extensive. Students will be able to collaboratively work together in teams, apply their understanding of engineering and design process gained in the STEAM elective class, and be able to use those skills when creating robots to compete in online, teacher and student initiated challenges.