Teacher Spotlight: 4th Grade Team
Bareuther, Davis, Life, & Stepaniak
Fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Davis, attended a professional development opportunity over the summer at the Innovation Center in Longmont on underwater robotics integrated into the classroom. We are lucky to have formed a partnership where our teachers can participate in the professional development opportunities offered by St. Vrain Valley School District. The training was in Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). These are underwater robots that are becoming more and more used in the field of science, technology, and engineering for solving problems in ocean and freshwater. These robots go where people can not. Some examples of ways they are used in the real world is for maintenance on ships and equipment, scientific research, cleaning up pollution and waste, dam construction, etc. After attending the training, Mrs. Davis came back to her principal and colleagues on the 4th grade team and proposed a project based learning experience for all students in the 4th grade. Her team quickly jumped on board with her innovative ideas.
Integration through science standards
The team has been planning an entire curriculum integrating the MATE ROV robots into the science curriculum teaching all the science standards and integrating all global outcome competencies. The team has just begun underwater robotics exploration with students. It is a pleasure to see the spirit of innovation, creativity, and collaboration come to life on this 4th grade teaching team.
Creativity and Critical Thinking
The first step of the project based learning experience was to let student explore with all the materials. They used an entry point of inquiry and discovery and questioning to get students thinking about how they could design a robot to move through the water. Teaching science standards such as buoyancy, density, force, and motion students have been modifying the underwater robots. Soon they will be given design challenges to solve with the robots.
Students work in teams to design the robots, solve design challenges, and eventually they will be given the task to design a robot to find solutions to real problems with freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams in our local community. Working on teams presents teachers with the opportunity to teach the skills of collaboration as well as compassion and teamwork.
Compassion and Global Awareness
The 4th grade team has collaborated on a goal to embed all the global outcomes into the project based learning experience with special focus on compassion and global awareness. They will use a design thinking approach to solve a real problem in our community and look at the problem through the lens of empathy. In the future, students could have the opportunity to participate in competitions with their MATE ROV. The theme for next year's MATE regional competition is surrounding the removal of plastics from fresh water and oceans, so that may be the problem that students program their robots to solve.