St. John's students roll out program to Robotics Buddies

Sometimes it's nice to have a buddy, a mentor, an older (and sometimes wiser) companion to show you, to teach you and to guide you in learning something new.  

The 1st through 4th graders at St. John the Baptist School in Vermillion recently worked with their own Lego robot buddies, a group of 5th and 6th grade students at the rural Catholic school, teaching them to build and program Lego robots, which were purchased by the school with a grant from the Richard M. Shulze Family Foundation fund at the Catholic Schools Center for Excellence. 

The younger students learned how to design, build and program the robot, and, more importantly, how to try, "fail," learn and repeat to build something interesting and useful.

"I think kids are less intimidated about trying or learning something new if they have an older friend to help them. The younger students have a lot of creative ideas about designing their robots and getting them to do really exciting things", commented 6th grader Abby Strommen.

The robots will also be part of the school's new "maker" program, a pilot program in 5th and 6th grade to foster the skills of creativity, problem solving, collaboration, grit and confidence in students to create things of value.

It will include several "seed" projects to give students exposure to various disciplines, including robotics, visual arts, computer programming, movie making and audio production. The students will then be challenged to identify and complete a "passion project", in which they spend several weeks creating something of their choosing. The learnings from the 5th and 6th grade program will be used to roll out the program in the other grades.