Introducing VEX IQ Robotics in 5th Grade STEM Class

When presenting at the 2015 Annual Conference of the NYS Technology and Engineering Educators Association, the Lower School STEM teachers were approached by the Education Consultant at iDesign Solutions for developing our systematic and comprehensive curricula for the VEX IQ Robotics System. Working in collaboration with our newest corporate partner, as well as our 5th grade STEM students, we have embarked on designing and piloting a new Engineering Education program infused with real world, engineering principles and professional practices.

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After being introduced to the new robotics system, students spent several class periods constructing their robots for navigation engineering as well as for programming robot manipulation incorporating sensors and actuators. Once the robots were constructed, students were next introduced to programming concepts in (graphical) RobotC. Having already programmed in Scratch as well as NXT 2.1 during their 4th grade year, our 5th grade STEM students easily grasped the programming concepts in RobotC. Throughout their introductory lessons on programming robot navigation, students were highly engaged with programming forward and reverse navigation as well as with programming specific point, pivot, and curve turns. After successfully completing each PBL (Problem-Based Learning) Task, students document their programming and robot performance results. Our STEM students will be expanding their hands-on learning in Engineering Education as they progress on to even more complex building and programming concepts in this current unit of study.

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With the numerous robotics systems and programming software they continue to learn each year, our STEM students make for excellent systems testers with reporting out their own recommendations, including some rather innovative ideas – already under consideration by corporate partner, iDesign Solutions.  Applying their learning in an authentic context adds relevancy to student learning and serves for building competency across the STEM disciplines. Equally exciting, meaningful content area connections are also made as our students solve for the building and programming challenges they are posed!

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