Can you build a functioning robot for fifteen bucks? A CTA Institute for Teaching Grant at Fontana Unified School District’s Harry S. Truman Middle School is underwriting an exciting program that uses project-based learning to drive student interest while teaching interdisciplinary skills that transfer across the school’s curriculum- and beyond.
In one course segment, students in grant recipient Travis Wood’s technology class use a small kit of electronic parts, coupled with newly developed computer coding and programming skills, to create a robot design. Once designed, 3-D printers are used to fabricate parts for their creations. Students use cell phones to control these fully functioning robots.
In another unit, students study video production and green screen technology and learn to create and manipulate digital imagery.
According to Wood, the knowledge and skills practiced in his class are benefiting every curricular area. “Students also learn how to use the computer to help them in other content areas. They type, they practice Web design, and learn animation. They also construct academic pieces of writing about social issues, and they create mind maps to organize their thinking for recall and concept connections. The projects they work on offer opportunities for the integration of other subject matter, most notably from math and science.”
Their next goal, with teachers from math, science and language arts, is to create a cohort of STEM students to take their existing technology to the next level and create an integrated program that makes connections among core subjects.
CTA Institute for Teaching is excited to invest in teacher-driven change in Fontana. Teachers are leading students to a deeper understanding of core content concepts by relating instruction to these projects students are exploring.