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Problem Solving Through Robotics at Murray After School
Students collaborate in Ms. Doreen Bonde’s Afterschool Course, “Introduction to Robotics” at Murray Elementary. Ms. Bonde shares her thoughts on her course and student collaboration.
If you don’t pay attention, a Sphero Ollie may just roll over your shoe. Is this robot out of control? No, it was programmed to do just that. During the winter session, Doreen Bonde taught “Introduction to Robotics” at Murray Elementary School. She was able to couple one of her many passions with a hands-on learning opportunity for several students.
Ms. Bonde attained a B.A. in Theatre from Westminster College. Subsequently, she earned a M.A. in Health Education from John F. Kennedy University. Professionally, she has devoted herself to technology; particularly in the areas of website design, social media and email marketing. Doreen has also been a “pioneer” instructor with the DPIE Afterschool STEAM program. We sat in on the final class of her Robotics program in the winter session and she shared her observations.
DPIE: Part of the course description encourages problem solving and creating. Through your experience, what are the benefits to conducting this through collaboration versus working in isolation? How does this benefit young students?
Doreen Bonde: “In all of my classes, I expect students to work in pairs or groups. As they move forward in school and later into careers, they will need to be able to effectively collaborate with others to be successful. Problem solving by integrating the input of fellow teammates is a skill they will need regardless of their future career choice.”
DPIE: What were the primary differences in working with Lego WeDo as opposed to the Sphero Ollies?
Bonde: “When we work with the Lego WeDo robots, we focus more on robot design and learning how to use the functionality of the motion sensors and tilt sensors as well as the motor. The Ollies challenge the students to program a robot that can go in multiple directions and at multiple speeds, which requires a lot of trial and error in their programming.”
DPIE: In what ways did the class create and test building designs?
Bonde: “One of the favorite projects in this group was when we built an earthquake simulator. We talked about why an engineer would want to simulate an earthquake in order to test the effectiveness of their designs. Then the students tried to build a structure that would best withstand our WeDo “earthquakes.”
DPIE: Anything else that you would like to add?
Bonde: “I’m excited to be able to share my passion for all things STEAM-related with our elementary students through my coding, robotics and makerspace classes. It’s incredible to be able to teach things like computational thinking and the engineering design process and see how quickly our students grasp the concepts and embrace them. As a parent, I struggled to find quality STEAM programs for my own children, so I am always trying to create the classes that I would have wanted for my own kids. I feel like my job is to inspire students who might not otherwise pursue these fields to find their place in our modern world and learn to apply these concepts in their lives in and outside of school.”
What is not evident from the images is that the Ollies could be programmed to “speak.” One of the students made his Ollie into a dolphin and it introduced himself prior to running the command. No, the name was not “Flipper.” DPIE would like to thank Ms. Doreen Bonde for inviting us into her laboratory at Murray Elementary School.
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