This past Friday I had the wonderful opportunity to chaperone our GATEWAY field trip to Georgia Highlands College in Cartersville, Georgia. GATEWAY is our gifted program and these students have been doing a lot of STEM as part of their "Tinkerlab" theme this school year. The teacher is my co-sponsor for our school STEM club, so it was fun to spend the day helping her. We carried 18 students from our school and had an amazing day of learning! The kids LOVED it!
The day started with a welcome from the Georgia Highlands Science Department Head and that kicked off us getting into groups. These groups were a mix of students, so it was a wonderful way for kids to get outside of their own bubble and make new friends. And I was chaperoning a group of students that did not include a single one from my school, so that was extra fun!!! I made lots of new friends too!
The students in my group all had permission to be photographed, so I wanted to be sure to share that before jumping in to what we did. Basically the day was a rotation of class sessions. Students were guided to each session by some of the college's softball team members who were generous enough to volunteer their time. Our first session was CHEMISTRY and the kids loved it. They learned about pH testing and acids and bases. Tons of fun with real-world application. This class was taught by one of the college instructors, so that made it extra cool to the kids.
Our next session was led by one of our district's GATEWAY teachers and students created Bristle Bots from small toothbrush heads. These were in kits and the students had fun figuring out how to connect the wiring properly to set up the battery powered robots. They then worked on controlling the direction of the bot's movement by the placement of pipe cleaners, paperclips, or rubber bands. It was an activity that got them thinking about distribution of weight and so on...
Our next session was led by another of the college professors and his graduate assistant. Students were stoked when they learned they would be working with a team to build a robotic arm! The task involved students really working as a team and this forced kids to talk to students they didn't know and build a collaborative group. They used awesome tools to complete a multi-step process in design. It took a LOT of teamwork to actually build one of these in the time allotted. Not every group completed the task, but everyone walked away wanting to go home and re-create the task! These arms actually work in picking up objects! So much fun.
After our lunch break, we headed into our final (and longest) session of the day...Battle Bots. More robotics...these kids love it. Students were set up in pairs and were instructed to design a robot cover in about 5 minutes. They were given specific supplies and only 10 minutes to bring their design to life. Then, the pairs had to enter a ring (hula hoops on the floor) and place their cover on a Sphero Spark robot. They had just a minute or so to test out the robot and figure out their speed and controls. Then, they had to battle another team. We went by process of elimination in 4 hoops until we had a champion. The champions from throughout the other sessions battled it out in a grand finale at the close of the day. Can we say LOUD anyone?! The gymnasium was full of cheers as kids watched these teams battle it out. The outcome was a winning team comprised of two students from different schools! Isn't that awesome?!
We loaded the bus and arrived back at school just in time for dismissal. And boy was I exhausted! I must admit that it was fun to step out of my library cocoon for a day. Now to put my feet up.
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