Students in our middle school programs show off their ideas for robots
iSchool is proud to have moved towards achieving one of our goals of diversifying our audience to include upper grades and students from diverse economic and cultural backgrounds. In February we began offering a new Creative STEM Engineering Robotics afterschool class for Middle School students in partnership with the Davinci STEAM School of Engineering for Youth, Excel Beyond the Bell, and three Montgomery County Public Schools (Neelsville MS, Montgomery Village MS, and Col. E. Brooke Lee MS). The classes are offered for free to students through EBB’s public-private partnerships.
A student listens for “codes” to direct his movement around the room
The course combines iSchool’s 21st Century Life Skills curriculum and our Engineering Design lesson progression with Robotics Engineering content from our new partner, the Davinci STEAM School. Inspired by the Renaissance, the Davinci STEAM School believes that education should be exciting and fun, build critical thinking skills, and fuel innovation.
Students will have plenty of fun building robots with Legos
Throughout the 14-week course, iSchool will encourage creativity and personal growth as students work collaboratively to solve problems and build robots. Ample time for lego-, computer-, and team-based play will also be included. In the first few classes, students and teachers got to know each other by focusing on Personal Strengths and individual ways of learning. Multifaceted 21st Century Life Skills such as Growth Mindset were also emphasized, and students were encouraged to “grow their minds” by becoming robots and coding their way around the room and by building Lego towers that reached the roof.
Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to embrace their identity and the diversity of others in a respectful way
In moving into a new age group – pre-teenagers and young teenagers in middle school – we are acutely aware of the social and emotional needs of the group. Children of this age are faced with insecurities and naturally interested in themselves and how they feel. Our classes stress the importance of creating an environment where all students feel comfortable and have a safe space to be creative. In one of our methods of adapting to this new age group, we are focusing on even more of a personalized approach than we usually take. We have had one-on-one conversations with students and are helping them find healthy solutions to both academic and personal challenges. This is why the focus of our 21st Century Life Skills curriculum will be on inward-looking skills such as Growth Mindset, Identity, and Self-regulation.