I know active STEM is happening students are teaching robotics to younger students

I have my senior student visit elementary schools to run robotics day camps.

Photo of Mark Carlucci
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I know active STEM is happening in my classroom when my senior students are teaching robotics to younger students.

This have been amazing...

Last fall I starting bring some of my grade 11 and 12 students into elementary school to run day camps with elementary classes. My students learned about the robotics system we were using and then visited classes at various school teaching other students about robotics.

My students would break up and work with small groups building a robot over the course of the day and then finished with a small competition. The elementary students loved it. Often, the students would completely ignore the bells and keep working into break. If was an awesome experience.

Here is a link to a video a local new outlet did on one of the camps: https://www.sootoday.com/videos/news/robots-take-over-local-classroom-77324

[Optional] Synthesize a little! In one sentence, describe something you learned from your empathy exercises or analogous research.

Letting students share their STEM experience benefits everyone.

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Photo of Lisa Yokana

HI Mark:
SO glad you posted! And I love this! So what are the take aways from this experience? What are some of the insights that you can glean from this? Is it the student to student interaction? What are the needs of your students around STEM experiences? I agree that older working with younger is wonderful-I've done it with sewable electronics! How is student to student learning different than teacher driven learning? Tell us more! (Also, I can't wait to dig into this challenge with you!!)
Hope all is well--

Photo of Mark Carlucci

Hey Lisa Yokana 
These camps have been a great learning opportunity for both groups of students.

My senior students always head into camp telling me, "We got this, sir. We fixed up all the problems." And, without fail, within the first 30 minutes I see a frustrated face or hear, "I don't know what to do!" My response is always the same, "I'm just here to take pictures." 

After an exasperated sigh, they return to the group they are leading, and figure it out. They start realize their role is to figure out how to solve problems, and, given the responsibility of leading a group of younger students, they do. After a few camps they start to learn everyone's skills and start to understand how to work together, communicate and delegate responsibilities to those students that are skilled in specific areas. And through all of it, they are learning about robotics and technical systems, concepts related to engineering, and skills connected to all STEM fields.

The elementary students we work with are really take away the ideas that, while the activities can be challenging and require hard work, STEM is fun, often hands on, and for everyone.

The concept of for everyone is one becomes very important. We try to illustrate that STEM is for jocks and nerds; girls and boys; "smart" and "dumb" kids; thinkers and hands-on kids. As we get into grade 7 and 8, it is often difficult to get the everyone interested in the camps. "Robotics is for nerds," comes up often, as does, "I'd rather play hockey." In the camps may of these kids have a lot of fun. They start competing to add the best modifications, "mods," to their robots. They strive to have the best robot in the mini-competitions. After having a few hundred kids participate in my camps, I can count on one hand the number of kids that didn't enjoy themselves.

I run the school robotics team, and will often visit classes looking for new recruits. Last fall I walked into a grade 8 class, described the program, and then asked who was interested in coming to check it out. One girl's hand shot up like a rocket, immediately her friend said, "Robots are for nerds." That girl's hand dropped so quickly that you would never have known it was raised.

Getting kids involved in hands-on STEM related activities starts to change attitudes. Too often STEM is thought of as something for one of a character from The Big Bang Theory. As adorable as they might be to watch, they aren't the cool ones, they are those strange people, awkward and too smart. By starting with younger kids, it is easier to show them how great STEM can be for all. And having older "cool" high schoolers high schoolers lead them, it leaves a significant impression.

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