Robotics Partnership between iSchool for the Future and Davinci STEAM School leads to socioemotional gains for middle schoolers

Our partnership with the Davinci STEAM School of Engineering for Youth to offer an Innovative Engineering and Robotics Course through Excel Beyond the Bell and three Montgomery County Public Schools (Neelsville MS, Montgomery Village MS, and Col. E. Brooke Lee MS) is leading to socioemotional gains and improved understanding of engineering and robotics for the middle school students in the classes.



Students used a Growth Mindset and Creativity to build the tallest towers they could in the time limit.


“We’re having fun, and really learning about engineering.”

– student in Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School Robotics Engineering Class



Students built cars with multiple moving parts. Watch the video.


Students are moving through a progressive course using the Davinci STEAM School’s engineering and robotics curriculum. This includes learning the foundation of machines as well as coding and basic programming. Students have been learning fundamentals, such as structural stability, gears, different types of wheels, building elements, simple machines, and autonomous robots, and have then put that knowledge together to make more complex robotic structures. Classes have offered hands-on experiences throughout. Students are currently working on building NXT robots.


“They were so excited to brainstorm on what the motors and servos could be used for.  Next week, they will be building the NXT robots and will be working with motors.  They were excited!” – Observations from class



“I AM A ROBOT.” Students in our Robotics Engineering class learned the basics of coding while also working in teams. It was a great way to build Communication Skills – no one wanted their teammate bumping into a wall! Watch the video.


iSchool and Davinci STEAM School have blended the robotics content with 21st Century Life Skills. Students have learned about Growth Mindset, with particular emphasis on practicing Grit, Resilience, and Perseverance, and learning to Embrace Failure while learning from mistakes. As students have moved on to more individualized projects, we have also stressed the importance of Empathy in innovation. As projects have been progressing, we are teaching students the skills they need to manage projects, such as Collaboration, using Personal Strengths in a team, Planning,  Communication, Self-regulation, and Confidence.  Building healthy personal relationships has been key, and by focusing on the socioeomotional needs of our students, we have observed them showing improved socioemotional skills:


– Moving from trying to dominate class and seeking attention (whether positive or negative) to showing compassion for others

– Exhibiting self-regulatory behaviors and encouraging teammates to be less disruptive and show more focus

– Working through struggles with designs in order to get their projects to work

– Gaining confidence as they lead discussions and teach others (and learning about the value of planning and preparation)

– Learning mechanisms to build self-esteem and handle difficult personal situations

– Growing their team work toolbox, including finding the value in working with new people on teams

– Gaining a bigger worldview about their school and how it relates to other schools, and finding healthy outlets to deal with the frustrations that arise from having a wider perspective

– Becoming more empathetic in their treatment of other students

– Being more responsible towards their own resources and those in the classroom

– Expressing excitement over the ability to make their own ideas come to life


“They really got interested in those concepts and realized that if they think they will be a genius loner, it is harder and riskier to do so, therefore, they need to work on their collaborative skills.” – Observations from class



Students used Perseverance and Creativity to build Scissor Claws that could pick up heavy items. Watch the video.