With a successful robotics program in place at Fulton’s G. Ray Bodley High School, the district is looking to spark an interest in technology among the younger students, thanks to a new robotics course at Fulton Junior High School.
The class will span the entire school year and is part of Gateway to Technology, a nationwide feeder program for Project Lead the Way.
As part of the program, eighth-graders will design robots that can be used to perform tasks during natural disasters.
According to FJHS technology teacher Patrick Armet, the robots will be designed to search for objects, recover items and take water samples for testing.
While the course may sound different from traditional classes that are offered, robotics is an infusion of several subject areas. Students use applied physics, mathematics, computer programming, digital prototyping and design, integrated problem solving, teamwork and thought leadership to develop their robots.
“The academic, social and planning skills the students will apply in all these classes as part of this unit will hopefully help them see the application of what they are learning and how all pieces of the educational experience come together,” Armet said. “The overlap between the classes when working on a unit like this is huge. Measuring, calculating wheel circumference, calculating battery life under certain loads are just examples of the math and science skills the students will apply during robotics.”
By incorporating a variety of skill sets and academic areas, district officials are placing students on track to be college and career ready, according to FJHS Principal Ryan Lanigan.
“This is a vital component to our desire to meet the needs of students that will be working in careers in the 21st century,” he said. “This is one of the many things we are looking to do to enhance our engagement of students and foster critical thinking. We are looking at implementing more cross-curricular projects to allow for students to focus on the soft skills they will need to be successful in life as well as understand the ‘why’ and not just memorize facts.”
Although the school year has just begun, Lanigan said he is confident that the robotics unit will push students to think in a more critical way and to analyze situations more thoroughly.
“I have observed our students asking higher-level questions of their teachers and I have witnessed our students engaged in high-order thinking as a result of the more rigorous curriculum,” he said.