Goshen Intermediate School students in Karen Kropp’s fifth grade class were faced with a challenge: design a robot that can move “nuclear waste” from one destination to another, without dropping the waste into “water.”
However, there was no right or wrong way when it came to the robot’s design. It was up to students to ensure that the robot met the criteria of the challenge; however, they were encouraged to “solve” the problem though collaboration, creativity and inquiry.
Students worked together in small groups to design their robots and operate them via remote control. One student from each group was selected as a driver to maneuver the robot over a large mat, made with different colored paper spread over the classroom floor. The robot had to push nuclear waste (blocks) to safety while avoiding the water (blue spaces) – in two minutes or less.
Students tested their designs and regrouped to modify, if necessary; oftentimes with suggestions and feedback from their classmates.
The robotics lesson is part of Project Lead the Way (PLTW). Launched in Goshen this year, PLTW emphasizes STEM skills and applied, hands-on learning. To view a video, visit the district’s Facebook page.