Through hands-on activities and tours, middle school students are being exposed to the amazing possibilities of robots and technology applicable to manufacturing careers. Teachers are developing more projects to incorporate technology throughout the school after experiencing the Maker Faire Bay Area.
Seventh grade English and History teacher, Teresa Burke, incorporates robots supplied by Sierra College through the California Community Colleges (CCC) Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Development program into her lesson plans to demonstrate applications of technology. This partnership is introducing Lichen Elementary School middle school students to role models at Sierra Makerspaces and community colleges as well as demonstrating exciting local careers where they might manufacture products that make people healthier, safer and more comfortable. Teachers also attended the Maker Faire Bay Area to gain inspiration for incorporating more technology into the classroom.
When studying medieval history, Lichen Elementary students built architectural replicas of buildings located in different cities in China out of recycled materials, explained Burke. The class placed the buildings on a gigantic map of China and programmed a Sphero ball shaped robot to roll from city to city. “The students found it so much easier to write about medieval history after they had a sensory experience of making buildings and ‘traveling” vicariously with the Sphero robot,” said Burke.
Seventh graders toured Technical Education classes and labs as well as the makerspace Hacker Lab powered by Sierra College and the new Haas Center for Advanced Manufacturing by Design at Sierra College
According to Steve Dicus, Deputy Sector Navigator (DSN) for CCC Advanced Manufacturing in the greater Sacramento region and housed at Sierra College, Burke’s creative use of robots in the classroom engages students and exposes them to the possibilities of technology. “To make technology available to all students so they would have access to coding and using robots, we supplied enough robots to Lichen Elementary school for an entire class to be immersed in the experience,” said Dicus. “Over the past two years Sierra College also offered the seventh graders tours of Technical Education classes and labs as well as the makerspace Hacker Lab powered by Sierra College and the new Haas Center for Advanced Manufacturing by Design at Sierra College.”
Burke explained that over 70% of the students at Lichen Elementary School in the San Juan School District qualify for free breakfast and lunch. “The enriching experiences with robots in the classroom in addition to the college tours can plant the seeds early for these students and influence their education and career plans,” said Burke. “We are grateful to Steve Dicus, Sierra College and the CCC Advanced Manufacturing program for providing these opportunities at such a formative age. These experiences build their confidence in their own technical abilities and introduce them to encouraging college faculty and student role models.”
Our teachers were so excited by what they saw at the Maker Faire Bay Area held in May this year
Burke, a self-proclaimed technology geek, has led the charge at Lichen Elementary to better prepare students for careers that they’ve never heard of in Advanced Manufacturing. “Our teachers were so excited by what they saw at the Maker Faire Bay Area held in May this year,” said Burke.
Touring the makerspace had impact, according to Dicus. “We believe that by partnering with teachers and introducing students to both maker tools and role models, more students will focus on pursing education to prepare themselves for advanced manufacturing careers,” said Dicus
Burke expects next year’s seventh graders are looking forward to robotic projects. “Students in the robotics club programmed a robot that performed in the school talent show,” said Burke. “It caught everyone’s attention and is just one of the many ways we are bringing robots into all aspects of our school programs to introduce every student to skills of the future.”