From left

From left

Robotics takes hold at Chilliwack middle

Chilliwack middle school is engaging a wider range of students with its Grade 8 robotics course.

If you had a chance to play with Lego in school, would you?

For a group of students at Chilliwack middle school this year, that was a no-brainer: Why wouldn’t you, they asked.

This year CMS included a Lego robotics component into its Grade 8 science curriculum that has students building robots from scratch and programming them to complete a variety of different skills and tasks.

“When people ask me what I did at school today, I get to say I played with Lego,” said student Sarah Wayenberg, a playful smile forming on her face.

But the thing is, while this course may look like mere child’s play, it’s actually heavily immersed in science and math concepts.

In building their grey and orange robots, which look to be a cross between Disney’s Wally and Short Circuit’s No. 5, students are investigating the transfer of energy, force, speed and the effects of friction. They’re also measuring distance, circumference, and rotational speed using coordinate systems, and are regularly converting between decimals and fractions. They’re programming and controlling input and output devises using wireless communication technology. And they’re problem solving through building, testing and evaluating their robots.

All without opening a textbook.

“I see students who don’t do well in academics come in here and excel,” said teacher Ryan Gleeson. “They get As in this class, they lead the pack, they show other students how to do things.”

Which is exactly what the Lego Group had in mind when it first developed the Mindstorms program. The company wanted to create a hands-on learning environment that would enable children, teens and adults to grasp science, technology, engineering and math concepts in a fun way.

With a kit that includes user-friendly programmable software, electric motors, sensors and Lego-technic bricks, students are building motorized robots and gaining skills that could be used in healthcare, engineering, computing, building and manufacturing industries.

CMS student Jonathan Bearshell, who excels in shop classes, but admittedly struggles in academics, loved the hands-on aspect of this course.

“It’s not so much reading from a textbook and writing things out, you’re actually using your hands and your mind to build something,” Bearshell said.

And unlike other academic courses, mistakes are not penalized, but welcomed.

“Figuring out these challenges takes mistakes, and many times more than one mistake, but when you finally get it, it sticks,” said student Natasha Farris.

The strong results in class was a good motivator for a group of students to start CMS’s first robotics club.

On a cool afternoon, just minutes after the last school bell had rung, while most of their friends were already setting foot home, or planning their evening’s activities, seven students in the robotics club were in a back room of the school’s shop class working on three of the nine challenges they’d learned throughout the year.

The club had just come off a loss at the Skills Canada competition, but

these kids weren’t wallowing, or even disappointed. Rather, they were learning, trying to fix their mistakes, better their outcome for next year.

“We were pretty much walking in [to the competition] blind,” said student Randy McFarland.

“We knew there would be certain challenges, but we had no idea what was ahead of us,” added Farris. “Now we know, and we’re determined to do way better next year.”

CMS plans to continue the robotics program for Grade 8 students in the 2012-13 school year, and hopes to have a Grade 9 curriculum developed for the 2013-14 school year.

kbartel@theprogress.com

twitter.com/schoolscribe33

Just Posted

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
Student’s quote in Chilliwack high school yearbook equates graduation with end of slavery

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Alexis Paige Simpson has not been in contact with her family in two months. (RCMP photo)
Chilliwack RCMP looking for missing 20-year-old woman

Police say Alexis Paige Simpson has not been in contact with her family in two months

(Maps.Chilliwack.com)
RCMP seek dash-cam footage after Chilliwack road rage incident

Male driving a black pickup stopped and allegedly threatened to punch another driver

Doses prepared at pop-up vaccine clinic in Toronto’s Jane and Finch neighbourhood, in the M3N postal code, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. ( THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston)
4 vaccine clinics coming to Neighbourhood Learning Centre

Fraser Health made clinics ‘low-barrier’ meaning pre-registration not required

Deepak Sharma of Abbotsford has been convicted of the sexual assault of one of his cab passengers in West Vancouver in January 2019.
Former Abbotsford Hindu temple president convicted of sexual assault

Deepak Sharma assaulted a female passenger when he was a cab driver

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

Most Read