The Lower School STEAM Lab bursts with excited children who are coding a robot named Dash. It's just one of many engaging science, technology, engineering, art and math activities Kelsey Sullivan teaches in this incredible new learning space.
The lab is bordered with computers and materials, leaving the bulk of the room open. Kids sit on the floor watching Sullivan's instruction as she guides them step-by-step on her expectations and starting their project. Her goal for today is that by working with Dash, the kids will be learning problem-solving, collaboration, math skills and coding.
Kids can't wait to get started on the first challenge. Their task is to make Dash go around the border of a blue square of tape on the carpet. To do this, they'll need to program a sequence of moves, estimate distances and determine turn angles. Sullivan explains that yesterday's coding puzzles laid the foundation for this activity.
Each team member in the small groups has a job. The energy is contagious. They dive right into the first coding challenge.
Several challenges later, the kids get to attach a bulldozer type pusher onto their robot. For this task, they'll program Dash to pick up three LEGOs inside the square and push them to the edge.
Sounds like fun, right? It is! Kids are loving every second of it.
Sullivan teaches classes in the STEAM Lab two days a week. Classes rotate through every five weeks.
The other days, teachers can bring their classes to the lab. Since all the Lower School teachers are trained on the STEAM Lab materials, they can bring their classes any time. You'll usually see Kindergarten there on Fridays when they work with Bee Bots robots.
Teachers can also request that Sullivan help them integrate STEAM into units of study. She's been helping third grade with their unit about geographic regions, so the kids use their coding skills to show what they've learned. They'll program the robot to travel on a large map, stopping at each region to share the features of that area.
If you haven't seen the new STEAM Lab, head up the ramp and look left where the school store used to be. It's a wonderful space that already is enriching the lives of our Aspen Academy students.
Guest Blogger Melissa Taylor from imaginationsoup.net