Inspired by a desire to create a unique and valuable experience for students, Kyle Walker- Digital Teacher Librarian at Kullerstrand Elementary, started a robotics club at his school. It is incredible to see how students light up at the opportunity to use their creative and logical brains to solve problems using the robots.
Well why not open that opportunity for students beyond the walls of Kullerstrand? So, Kyle started connecting with teachers around the district and found many that were either already doing robotics, or interested in getting started. His enthusiasm expanded quickly into a VEX and Sphero competition with an open invitation to teams across the district. On December 2, 2017 schools came together with their robotics teams at Three Creeks Elementary to scrimmage using either VEX or Sphero.
There was collective effort and planning to make the event happen because Jeffco teachers got equally as excited once they saw how the students light up.
Mr. Walker is building on this collaborative success and hosting another event in February. Thirty teams will represent Jeffco schools on February 10th from 9:30-2:30 at Three Creeks K-8 in a VEX robotics competition. Event participants have an opportunity for official entry into the world-wide VEX competition.
What is VEX?
VEX is a company that makes tools for robotics. On their website they state, "All we’re trying to do is make really cool stuff, which other people can use to inspire today’s students. We're not changing the world; we just work with a lot of people who are changing it." They provide a curriculum to support educators who are, to reference their statement above, changing the world by engaging students in computer science education.
VEX hosts a world-wide robotics competition for students. There are currently about 16,000 teams in 40 countries. Every year, the challenge is different, but the skills remain the same: computational thinking, problem solving, perseverance, discipline, teamwork, leadership, and application of STEM skills, to name a few.
Interested in learning more about the VEX competition from a Jeffco participant?
Kyle Walker has also offered to have an informal get together to help make sense of the VEX Robotics Competition. If you're in the district, use Outlook to find his email and send away! He's open to answering questions and growing this into an opportunity for many elementary students.
What is Sphero?
From the Sphero website, they describe themselves as follows: Sphero Edu provides a toolset that is unbounded in its potential. Through creative activities, students can learn to program their robots while nurturing their cognitive skills and independent exploration. All you need are the raw materials – Sphero robots, the Sphero Edu app, and your brain.
For the event, Kyle designed and built a variety of courses for students to code their way through. Students were read the directions, given an iPad with the Sphero app open, and worked within a time limit to use block coding to code the Sphero through the course!
Interested in Joining in the Fun?
If you're interested in getting started with robotics and coding in your elementary school, contact the Jeffco Ed Tech team. Curricular connections, ISTE skills, and robotic tools and resources are just a few starting places the team can support you with. Additionally, learn more aboutSphero on our Ed Tech web page.