How do you get students excited and eager to be at school when they don’t have to be? Give them Legos, a computer and a challenge.
This is exactly what students experienced when they volunteered to spend their fall break with Brett Hofer, Batesville Intermediate School fifth-grade teacher.
Students volunteered their mornings to challenge their minds and have some fun as well. The first day, they were introduced to the new LEGO Mindstorms EV3 kits. Each kit contains pieces to build several different robots, all of which can be programmed using the Mindstorms software.
Students had a blast digging for pieces, putting them together and watching their bots take shape. Once their bots were completed, they were trained on the software, so they could tell their bots what to do.
After going through the basic programming training, each group was presented some easy challenges, including making the bot go exactly 1 yard and stopping on a line, moving 1 yard without the use of wheels and making the bot go up a steep incline with the use of gears. It took cooperation, sharing ideas and perseverance to get past these challenges, but every group did it. Then the real challenge began.
The two hardest were building attachments for their bots. The youth first had to create a bot that would scoop up a ping-pong ball, turn, carry it across the table and dump the ball into a hole. The second challenge had students create an attachment that would grab onto a box. They had to program their bot to drive forward, grab the box, drive back, turn and drive forward to put the box in a square no bigger than the box itself. Both tasks took a lot of planning, building, programming, testing, modifying and retesting before they created something that could perform the task.
A big thank you goes to Batesville Community Education Foundation for providing the grant to purchase the Lego kits. Without them, this experience would not have been possible for these students and future students who choose to attend the class at BIS.