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Will the use of robotics continue to develop 21st-century skills and growth mindset habits in middle grades students?
With the help of this grant last year I was able to put a STEAM and Robotics focus on our Gifted & Talented program. The results were remarkable. I had hoped the engineering design process of building and programming robots would foster more grit and perseverance in problem-solving. That was just what I got. As students progressed with their robots it was evident their fixed mindset was turning into a growth mindset by their comments and reflections. The teachers commented on their problem-solving skills in their classrooms. It was wonderful to see them learning 21st-century skills and developing lifelong learning habits.
These same students are now out of our elementary building and in our junior high. There are not pullout sessions in this building nor are their robots. I would hate to see their passion and their computer science skills end in the 6th grade. I want to continue offering these challenges with the robotics and coding portion to them at the junior high level. This can be done one of two ways. One way is if in they are in my elective I teach. The other is with a before school club and an after-school club. This would not only allow the students who are in Gifted & Talented but any student who may be curious about robotics. I believe by initiating a spark in the elementary and then sharing and expanding in the junior high will help set them up for the engineering and computer science pathways offered in high school as well as help them develop better problem-solving skills that can benefit them in their content classes.
I will track this two ways. The first is to track in the Spring how many sign up for a computer science or engineering pathway as electives. I will compare this to what they answer in a survey at the beginning of the year. I will also keep track of their career goals from beginning to end to see if anyone changed to an engineering, computer science or related field. Since there aren’t any other coding or computer science opportunities I would know that the robotics club would have influenced them down a different path.
I will also use the same growth mindset survey from last year to see if the designing and coding of robots has helped them develop persistence in problem-solving and developing grit in challenges. I will also get observations from their content teachers regarding this same matter.