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News from the Education Foundation

Posted: December 16, 2013

Chaparral Gifted Students Embrace Robotics Challenges through Spring 2013 Horizon Award

Project allows high potential students to develop expertise with sophisticated materials that will help them in future studies in science, technology, engineering and math. They also benefit from a cooperative learning environment that develops skills in communication and working with peers.

Chaparral students enjoy working on the robotic components provided by an APS Education Foundation Horizon Award.

Chaparral students enjoy working on the robotic components provided by an APS Education Foundation Horizon Award.

Teacher Jeanne Kumpunen had a strong vision for the students as she wrote her grant proposal.  She said, “ I think that it is important for kids to have fun, hands-on experiences with doing STEM activities that help them to make decisions about careers in their future.  If we give them experiences when they are young that include the sciences and technology it can have lasting effects that will influence them in their future choices.  It might make harder classes like math seem more worthwhile because they know that it will help them in fields like robotics or space science.  Also, robotics can be cross-curricular because robots are being used in all types of situations all over the world.  What is more engaging than robots?”

APS Science Resource Teacher Suzanne Johnson and APSEF Board Member Amy Tapia from Sandia National Laboratories/Lockheed Martin were able to visit the robotics class a few weeks ago.  Students were actively engaged in not just building but also programming their robots.  Several very animated and knowledgeable conversations occurred between visitors and students during the classroom visit, showing the depth of learning that occurs with hands-on projects. 

Four Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0 Robot kits, and other ancillary materials, were provided through the APS Education Foundation Horizon Awards program.  The goal is to transcend the original grant proposal of purchasing materials and building and programming robots and enable students to compete with their completed robots in the Central Albuquerque Robotics Collaborative, thereby giving students the opportunity to compete and collaborate with students from other schools.  Competition motivates students to learn projects better and faster. 

Ms. Kumpunen will use task completion charts to record successful completion of robots, programs, repairs, alterations, teacher developed programming challenges and student developed challenges.  Technical vocabulary is measured through a pre and post test.  The visitors, who were joined by Principal Florence Goldeberg during their time in the classroom, were very impressed with the students’ knowledge of the topic and their focus to be “on task” at all times.  Ms. Tapia came away from the visit with  a strong sense that the STEM projects funded by the APSEF Horizon Awards truly enhance science and technology standards and benefit students by providing exciting, yet rigorously academic, curriculum.