Two new after-school robotics clubs are creating quite a buzz at Mintonye Elementary School. Second- and third-grade students are constructing a model honeybee habitat out of Legos and motorized parts. The goal of this FIRST Lego League Junior challenge is to design and build the model so that it could protect honeybees as they retrieve honey from the hive. Meanwhile, the fourth- and fifth-grade students in VEX Robotics are developing strategies for its teamwork challenge.
Mintonye organized the clubs after McCutcheon Robotics team member and former Mintonye student Michael Hoover shared information on elementary-level robotics programs with Mintonye Principal Rob Skaggs. "It sounded like an outstanding opportunity to introduce STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) concepts to younger students using a brand they know and love — Legos," says Skaggs.
Third-grade teacher Barb Tilley coaches the robotics teams and works closely with Michael to build the programs.
Tilley says the Lego League team started preparing for its first competition by learning more about bees. "Students researched online to learn about beekeeping and bee habitats, as well as other animals that survive in the same habitat," says Tilley. "They have learned simple programming to create an element that spins, and a pulley system that will be part of the final display."
The robotics programs are partially funded through donations from parents, as well as grants from Tippecanoe County pharmaceutical manufacturer Evonik, and the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation, a non-profit educational organization.