Trina Conover's second grade McCordsville Elementary School class enjoyed having Indy Art Lab teach students basic circuitry and an introduction to robotics. Thanks to a teacher-requested grant provided by the Mt. Vernon Education Foundation (MVEF), students learned about basic circuitry by investigating the parts that make up an electric toothbrush: on/off switch, battery, vibrating motor and connecting circuits. They created a moving robot from various parts including toothbrush components, jello cups, ping-pong balls, tapes, metallic pipe cleaners and stickers. These charming robots are great introductions to robotics and making moving objects and inventions.
Conover stated, "this year, I've really been working to incorporate more STEM activities into our science curriculum. It has really helped students to start thinking 'outside the box' and develop their building and engineering skills at a young age. One of our Indiana standards for second grade is for students to develop a simple model, investigate it and describe how their model functions. I knew it would go along with the STEM activities we had been working on."
Most of the students said they were excited about the visit because they couldn't wait to build something by themselves that moved. On the day of the visit, The Art Lab gave a presentation about how circuits work and the many places we use them. They also talked about all the different ways that robots are used. One student said their favorite part was learning about how robots are used to save peoples' lives or find them if they're lost.
After the presentation, students were given time to create their robot. Students used common household items such as, pool noodles, styrofoam balls, toothpicks, and the motors from electric toothbrushes. When they had finished their creation, they were able to put their robot in the circle on a table to watch it move. Students were amazed at how the structure and balance of their creation could determine if their robot moved in circles or back and forth. One of the favorite parts of the afternoon was after everyone had finished their robot, they were able to put them in the circle to battle to see whose robot could stay in the circle the longest. One student described this as the "best day ever."
Conover stated, "this was definitely a fantastic opportunity for my second graders. I loved being able to watch their creativity and imaginations at work. It was especially rewarding to see students who may struggle in other subject areas really excel in this activity. Not all students may be exceptional in reading or writing, but they shine when it comes to creating and building. This activity helped to reach all students. I can't thank the MVEF enough."