At Chatham Middle School, a new Robotics course has eighth graders building, automating, and coding.
“This is the first Project Lead the Way class at CMS,” said the Middle School’s technology teacher, Tyler Cowherd. “It’s a project based learning course where students are given a problem and figure out a solution using the VEX kits and coding.” VEX kits are sort of like high-tech Erector Sets and provide the students with the components they need – like motors, gears, and wheels – to design and build automated, programmable machines.
Recently, Mr. Cowherd challenged the class to design cars that could travel the farthest distance possible in 5 seconds. The students worked in teams to construct their cars and program them to move forward for 5 seconds and then automatically shut off. Once all the cars were ready, the teams took them to the gym to put their designs to the test. The team whose car traveled the furthest was that of Amelia Scheriff, Anneke Nijboer, and Tallulah O’Connor-Brockway.
Earlier problems that students solved during the course include automating a sign, making a miniature elevator that stopped at different floors, and creating a lift chair to safely bring a miniature “grandma” up a set of stairs.