Robotics: New STEM Direction

Robotics: New STEM Direction
Posted on 10/30/2020

Computer science courses at Remsen St. Mary’s Schools have expanded again this year. Seniors Damen Brownmiller and Xavier Galles are working on robotics as an independent learning class. Galles took the Computer Science Discoveries class last year and is in the Computer Science Principles AP course this year. Brownmiller took the CSP AP class last year.

“They started the year by learning how to build and program a FIRST LEGO League EV3 robot,” said Mrs. Kris Full. “This is a good entry-level robot because the students also get experience with installing and programming sensors on the robots,” she explained.

Then they learned how to build and program a VEX IQ robot. They demonstrated this robot for the middle school by attaching a claw and a Go Pro camera to the robot. They “captured” the students’ legs in the claw and then captured their surprised expressions on the camera.

Next, the seniors switched gears and prepared a lesson on paper electronic circuits for the 5th graders. Each student created a card by coloring a Halloween-themed design and adding a battery and LED lights to create a complete circuit. It was hard to tell which was brighter - the flashing lights or their big smiles!

 “The VEX IQ and VRC robots are two of the Iowa Governor’s STEM Initiative programs that we received this year,” said Mrs. Full. The computer science courses at St. Mary’s got started with the CSP AP class in 2018, through and NewBoCo, Iowa’s regional partner. Then last year, the Computer Science Discoveries course was added. All of these offerings were made possible through the Governor’s STEM Initiative. “We are very appreciative of the initiative,” said Mrs. Full. “The governor’s STEM program has enabled our students to receive a foundation in computer science from elementary grades up through high school,” she added.

Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Vicki Heeren and preschool teachers Mrs.Tonya Galles and Mrs. Michon Wurth received awards for Hand2Mind STEM in Action modules and Pint Size Science kits through the Governor’s STEM Initiative. 

"The STEM modules and kits are awesome additions to our curriculum,” said Mrs. Heeren. “The students love using the hands on materials. Very early on in the year the students very naturally learn to follow the STEM in Action Engineering process." She explained that for the young students they are given a challenge and then work in groups to do problem solving, designing, testing and re-designing. Cooperation, communication, and teamwork skills are built while completing the tasks.

Preschool teacher Tonya Galles added, "Through the STEM awards, small schools are able to supply the children with knowledge and materials they might not otherwise receive. The materials Remsen St. Mary’s has been awarded over the last four years through the governor's STEM initiative is very much appreciated. Our students look and feel like the scientists they are with child-sized goggles, lab coats and all types of science tools."  

Heeren concluded, “The students just love STEM time. From computer Blue Bots to Make Do building tools the students get experiences that engage them in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields. The students are the future of Iowa, and Governor Kim Reynolds’ STEM Initiatives are a great advantage for Remsen St. Mary’s.”
LEGO robot
Xavier Galles is surrounded by LEGOs that he used to build and program the LEGO EV3 robot.

robot visit
The 5th grade class is surprised to see their "visitor" - a VEX IQ remote-controlled robot.
caught by robot
Micah Loutsch (7th grade) gets an up-close and personal experience with the robot!
Xavier Galles and Damen Brownmiller created a step-by-step video to share with the 5th grade to teach them how to do paper circuits.
folding copper tape
Damen Brownmiller helps Lucas Sheehan form a corner with his copper tape.
halloween circuits
Reece Homan and Laney Klein display their completed Halloween paper circuit project, complete with flashing LED lights.