Mr. Roboto, a post by Michael

Greetings to you all! My name is Michael, the husband to the wonderful woman who normally documents our lives on this blog, but I have taken to the keyboard this week.

As she said in her June 22nd post entitled Daddy’s Home, this summer I have been training for my new teaching position at Maumelle Middle School. I have taught a variety of things in the past 3 years: English, Creative Writing, and Math. Whew! Basically a different subject every year, but at the end of last school year I was given the opportunity to teach a class called Gateway to Technology. In this class, students learn how to design and draw 3D models on the computer as well as design and build robots to perform a variety of tasks. I was happy to accept this position because I feel that it really fits my skill set due to my previous career as an Interior Designer.

While I knew a little about my new subject, I had very little knowledge on how to actually teach it to 7th and 8th graders. Thankfully, my school district offered to pay for me to go to two training sessions to help me with that.

Last week, I was at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, MO for the robotics portion of my training. The training was conducted by Project Lead The Way. If you haven’t heard of this organization, please check them out and encourage your school to get a PLTW program. They are a leading provider of rigorous and innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education curricular programs used in middle and high schools across the U.S. In these programs, students create, design, build, discover, collaborate and solve problems while applying what they learn in math and science. They’re also exposed to STEM fields through professionals from local industries who supplement the real-world aspect of the curriculum through mentorships and workplace experiences.

Everything in the world today can be connected to math and science, so it’s important for students to put their best foot forward in order to succeed in today’s technological world.

We began the week by building simple mechanisms:

Image

Which progressed to more complex ones:

Image

Image

For the mechanism below we were given a challenge to build a machine that would chop wood, pump water and grind grain all at once, which we did just that.

Image

Then we added motors:

The picture below shows a chair lift to help Grandma get up and down the stairs. Bless her heart.

Image

Below is an elevator that needed to travel to 3 different floors. Building it was easy, programming the computer to tell it when to go where was not.

Image

This was the final assignment. Everyone was given a section of an assembly line that needed to perform a certain task. My task was to cut a notch down the center of a wooden block, hence the giant buzz saw. The red LED light came on when the saw was in motion. Safety First!

Image

I was blessed to be in a class with such wonderful people that were very helpful and kind, despite being huge nerds.

Image

To say I am excited about this coming school year would be an understatement. I’m ecstatic! I look forward to seeing the creative problem solving that my students will use in my class and can only hope that they use the skills learned in my classroom to solve the challenges they face in life.