Intercurricular Synergy: Teaching Robotics in Middle School

What combines science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics? Robotics, of course! 7th Grade Science Teacher, Curtis Redmon found that teaching students robotics creates a perfect kind of synergy between many different school subjects. Mr. Redmon has found that students are able utilize many different tools learned in other subjects. The robotics programs also let students explore their curiosity as many of the labs allow students to work independently. After coding on their Chromebooks, students were introduced to the EV3 robot made by LEGO. Students then learned each component of the EV3. All 150 students in grades 6th and 7th had took part in building the initial robot. Eventually, the challenges got harder and students had to complete a performance task of programming the EV3 to simulate a “tight rope” roll across a beam using one wheel. In the beginning, most performance task were modeled first by Mr. Redmon and Mr. Griffin, but as the unit progressed students began to write and execute their own programs.

Students collaborate on the "Robot Barrel Roll" lab where the goal is to program a robot to do a barrel roll.

Bringing robotics to Hyde was the vision of Middle School Director, Lex Zain and Dean of Curriculum, Sharilyn Fletcher. Both Ms. Zain and Dr. Fletcher had studied the benefits of having robotics programming in schools and decided that it would be a perfect fit for Hyde. Hyde is among one of the few schools in the country that offers robotics as a full-time course in Middle School. 

Having robotics at Hyde benefits students in many ways. The program gives students the ability and liberty to be as creative as they want and need to be in order to complete a task. “Just like a math problem, there are several different ways to the same outcome,” Mr. Redmon said. When students were assigned the “tight rope” tasks, Mr. Redmon said he was amazed at how many different ways students utilized to reach the same end result. 

Bryan Banegas (left) works collaboratively with a partner on the "Robot Barrel Roll" lab.

Bryan Banegas (left) works collaboratively with a partner on the “Robot Barrel Roll” lab.

The unit challenged the 6th and 7th graders to think outside the box and come out of their shells. One student who has particularly thrived through the robotics program is seventh-grader Bryan Benegas. “I love how interactive the class is,” said Bryan. “This class is preparing me for life. Robots are the future. I know it will give me a head for the future.” Through the robotics unit, Bryan says he learned how technology has and will affect the economy and his career choices.

One of Mr. Redmon’s favorite memories came during a task given called “The Grip”. In the beginning, students thought this was not doable. Until curiosity set in and they began to work on it. This task was to draw a design on paper and then have the robot draw the same design using the grip they built. Students designed and built a pencil grip or claw which holds the pencil. Students then programmed on their chromebooks a program that the robot would do to draw the same exact sketch they illustrated on paper. Mr. Redmon said:  “The outcome was amazing and the students were almost in disbelief that the robot they built, designed, and programmed is drawing their sketch on paper.”

"Before asking Mr. Griffin or me for help, I want you and your partner to try and problem solve," Mr. Redmon tells his seventh grade robotics class. He says he's been thrilled with the results of the course on his students, especially in the passions the course has ignited.

“Before asking Mr. Griffin or me for help, I want you and your partner to try and problem solve,” Mr. Redmon tells his seventh grade robotics class. He says he’s been thrilled with the results of the course on his students, especially in the passions the course has ignited.

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