OAK Hill, Ohio—Fifth graders at Oak Hill Elementary have found a new smiling friend in their science class. Earlier this year, Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth donated $4,000 to the school for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) equipment. School officials purchased kits for the students to build programmable robots.
“Part of our Community Commitment Plan is to support education in our community,” said Site Project Director JD Dowell, “It is exciting to see our dollars enhancing the early learning process and demystifying the concepts around STEM for these young students so they aren’t intimidated later in middle and high school with learning science, math or the arts.”
Students said it took about 15 minutes to put the mBots together. The mBots are entry-level coding robots that can be manipulated with a physical controller, or with an app from their tablets that offers additional features to make the robots sing, dance, or play games through a Bluetooth connection.
“There’s an online manual that walks the kids through it so we’re all learning as we go,” Assistant Principal Morganne Newsom said. “They just made these on Tuesday and the kids are teaching me.”
Some of the students reconfigured their control panels to change colored lights on the robots, while others focused on getting them to play music. A few students christened their robots into the family with names like “Wally Jim Jr.” and “B.”
At the beginning of the school year, students learned about planets and the solar system. Now, they are working together through hands-on activities, following directions, and writing codes the robots can understand. On their third day with the robots, the students had them playing a mini version of soccer in the hallway.
“I think this is a great starter set because it allows them to interact not only with each other, but learn as they go,” Science Teacher Mary Ann Mullins said. “This has been a really good way for them to not only work together, but also to help other teams. As you can see, they enjoy helping each other.”
“Our plan is to incorporate this into our afterschool activities,” Newsom said. “This has been great and they love it. I feel like this is just the beginning and we’re going to keep this going.”
Next year, they plan to introduce students to the mBot Ranger, a more advanced robot kit which is also based on the Makeblock™ platform.
For more information about Fluor-BWXT, please visit www.fbportsmouth.com.