By Allan Jamail
Saturday, November 2, 2019, at the Galena Park North Shore Senior High 10th Grade Center, the elementary schools in the district came out for the STEM/robotics program.
STEM is an educational program developed to prepare primary and secondary students for college and graduate study in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In addition to subject-specific learning, STEM aims to foster inquiring minds, logical reasoning, and collaboration skills.
Jacqueline Moreno, Director of Math & Science, explained the program and days activities:
The purpose of GPISD’s Elementary STEM/robotics program is to enrich students’ lives by exposing them to the world of robotics, problem solving and critical thinking through math and science. Robotics provides students with opportunities to explore complex problems. Students work with their campus teams to research ways robotics can improve a system in the world. They then build robots and create scenarios and complete specific tasks designed to solve the real-world problems they researched. Fifteen of our elementary campuses participate in a STEM/Robotics after-school club.
Today we had a total of 170 students and 60 teachers gather to celebrate our yearly robotics kick off with a great day of learning. Students attended with their campus team and spent time building their robots, researching ideas, networking with other students from different campuses across the district and exploring new possibilities.
This year we had the AI tech program from San Jacinto College participate by showcasing a voice activated robot. Also our high school team KAOS demonstrated their competition robot. These young groups of high school students mentor our elementary students by visiting with them about the possibilities of building new robots and guidance on existing projects.
In addition, our Galena Park ISD technology department shared information with our students on virtual reality, augmented technology and 3-D apps. Teachers from the campus level, serve as coaches, mentors and facilitators to students from their own campuses. Teams have an opportunity to participate in our district “Kick-Off” day, “Build-It” days, and the district STEM/Robotics Showcase held towards the end of the year.
Teams often meet weekly on their campuses, during the school day, before school or after school. On our big showcase day, teams present their robots and demonstrate the real world problem they solved, as well as the research completed for the task. For all of their hard work, students receive participation certificates, as well as coupons and goodies from local community partners. Our district robotics program is in alignment with the All-Earth Ecobot Challenge, which is an elementary robotics competition open to all elementary grade students in the Harris County area.
However, the purpose of our program is not competition; it’s focused on learning and exploration. STEM and Robotics inspires young people to be science, math, and technology leaders by engaging them in an exciting mentor–based program that builds science, engineering, and technology skills, inspires innovation, and fosters well–rounded life capabilities including higher-order thinking, self–confidence, communication, and leadership. Through research and investigation, students advance their confidence in solving real-world problems.
Moreno said, “I absolutely love the kick-off day because the kids engage in a variety of activities from robots, drones, tech apps and building supplies. This day truly has something for everybody.”
Assisting in the article were Jacqueline Moreno, Tammy Merimon, Kaneice Washington, and Paul Johnson.