We can all agree that we need to include STEM integration into our students' education. The hard part is figuring out how to best and most effectively do that. Though we have been talking about STEM for a while I feel like it's often thought of as an unrealistic goal and something only really tech savvy teachers could even begin to understand and relay to their students. Even as a "tech" person I often found myself questioning if I could effective speak on the subject and share that information with teachers and students.
Enter my amazing co-integrator, Anita Moose (@amooseIT), with a plan to provide quick and easy professional development to math teachers on ways to integrate STEM into their existing teaching and open the door to using the robotics coach (@amshanson) and tech team as supports in making it happen.
You can review the brief presentation below, but the main focus was on using two tools we have readily available to teachers:
Lego Mindstorms are great robots for teachers and students of all skill levels to dive into robotics. The activity we used to get teachers an idea of how robots could help teach math is the very simple "Closer" activity which has students guess how many rotations and how much power is needed to get the robot closet to an object. There are many modifications and adaptions that can be done to make the math more challenging or complex and address several different concepts such as place value, measurement from standard to metric, estimation, multiplication, ratios, degrees, geometry vocabulary: diameter, radius, circumference, proportions, variables, graphing, statistics, interquartile range, graphing, Pythagorean Theorem, and systems of equations. Check out more details with the links from the presentation and interject some awesomeness into your math class!
If you read my last post you already know about my love affair for Ozobots! These little guys are such an easy and fun way to dive into the basics of robotics and block coding that I guarantee you could be up and running with a class in 15 mins or less! We showed teachers a really simple lesson they could do to cover geometry concepts, but there are many other lessons out there to teach things like Slope Practice, Calculating Areas of Common Geometric Figures, Determining the Value of π with Ozobot and a Stopwatch, and Make a Multiplication Algorithm. Ozobots lessons don't just cover math topics so be sure to check out their educator portal and search for a variety of topics you may be teaching that can be spiced up with some robotics!
That's it! With this simple presentation and links to resources and roughly an hour we had exposed teachers to a few quick and easy ways to become STEM educators themselves and not have to add more to their already overflowing plates, but simply rethink how they could teach concepts they were going to do anyway. One last piece that really added some authenticity to the whole process was having a couple of robotics students come talk to the group and help show them how to use everything. Seeing students who were already engaged and capable of using these tools effectively really hit home with the teachers in attendance. Hats off to Anita for taking the lead and making this a priority for our schools and backing up her thoughts with actions and support. Feel free to use the resources shared in this post and share any other great ways you are doing STEM in the comments below!
Director of Technology for Traverse City Area Public Schools. Level 2 Google Certified Educator. Former Tech Integration Specialist and 4th grade teacher at Aspen School District and Spartan for life! Go Green!