Last December, a 5th grade parent came to me and asked if I had ever thought of starting a VEX IQ robotics team. I answered truthfully, “I haven’t and I don’t know that much about it, but I’m willing to learn!”. That was the best answer I could have ever given. So, we wrote a couple of grants talked 5 4th and 5th graders into joining out Robotics Team to build robots, attended a competition, and learned a ton!
1 year later, our Robotics Team has expanded to 15 students, 3 teacher coaches, and we are signed up for 2 competitions in the new year. We have wrote more grants, ordered team shirts, and purchased the Vex IQ board and competition kit so we can not only build our robots but also program them to play the Ring Master Challenge!
Our students are stoked about building robots and learning how to program them! It makes my heart swell because before that conversation with the 5th grade parent, I would never have dreamed of starting a robotics club. I am much more English Language Arts minded and although I LOVE teaching coding, STEM projects, and Science experiments it’s definitely not second nature. However, I know it’s what our students not only are interested in but are also the skills they need for success.
I have always been very open with my students about learning with them and that I by no means the expert. They often see me struggle with building and looking at the robot spatially (they are better at it then me!). But, I’m a strong believer that students need to see adults struggle and persevere to celebration and success!
This year I have facilitated 4th and 5th grade students to build robots out of parts, drive the robot they built to play a challenge, and program their robot. These are things that when I was in 4th and 5th grade I would never have dreamed of. But the looks on our students faces when the robot they built from parts moves for the first time is priceless! It’s totally worth struggling and stepping outside of my comfort zone for our students!