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Passing the STEM Torch in Sparta, TN

Last fall, we funded a robotics project for a High School Science Club in Sparta, TN. They recently hosted an exciting STEAM outreach event for elementary students, and we couldn’t wait to share with you all the great things they’re doing!

An mBot is traveling along an obstacle course of colored shapes in a hallway, with student feet standing around observing.

For Mr. Martin, a science educator in Tennessee, adding mBots to his Science Club meant an opportunity to explore student robotics interests and engage in coding. The club was able to build obstacle courses and learn the ins and outs of the robots. But they didn’t stop there! Coordinating with the 21st Century After School Program, the club was able to institute a STEAM Outreach program, allowing the high school students to reach and mentor elementary school students in the district and spark interest in STEM and coding.

A student holds a tablet and maneuvers an mBot through colored shapes on a floor obstacle course, as other students watch.

Our goal is to provide these students that live in a rural community more opportunities to be hands-on with technology, robotics, and innovative educational tools that provide life-long memories and a greater appreciation for the sciences through STEAM education. – Mr. Martin

The collaboration was a huge success. To improve STEAM interests in primary school students in the district, the club members created lesson plans that included basic coding skills, understanding the importance of science and technology in our society, and collaborative group work that harnesses their communication skills and challenges them to be innovative in designing ways to use these coding skills (or an engineering design process) to show their mastery. Not only that, but club members were able to truly lead the charge, teaching the lessons, motivating the students, and collaborating for success. Club members shared their stories on why science and technology are important in their lives, connecting the dots for primary students.

This science club created a wonderful model of collaboration and resource sharing, allowing a greater number of students to interact with robots and develop an interest in STEAM.

Student written responses to the mBot event:

Looking ahead, the Science Club has many more ideas they want to explore! Mr. Martin shared that students had discussed collaborating with the media department to create a video that demonstrated the importance and excitement that STEM education can bring to a classroom, as well as highlight how these robots work from a scientific view. We can’t wait to see what these students are able to do next!

More student responses to interacting with the robots:

“I loved the robots! It was so fun getting to drive them and learn how to make them light up and make sounds.”
“So much fun! I’ve played with robots before, but they were toys. I liked making them move around using the tablet. That was cool.”
“Can you guys bring them again? I want to try racing them next time!”

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