With Robots and Video Games, Parkway and Normandy Unite to Energize STEM Programs

By on February 11, 2019

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  School is the last place most students want to be on a Saturday morning, but that’s not the case for those involved in a joint program Parkway and Normandy school districts are offering this month.

Robots and video games are a big part of the draw, organizers say, to this program that melds science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM for short.

“We were surprised at all the interest from students,” said Jennifer Proffitt, STEM coordinator at Parkway. “We kept saying, this is a lot of Saturdays!”

Two hundred children from third through eighth grade — 100 from each of the districts — have committed to showing up all four Saturdays in February to learn how to program robots to do things like push a hockey puck or cruise around a course they’ve set up on the floor. Students will also create video games and get the chance to play each other’s games.

The coding, math, engineering and collaboration skills they’re learning come naturally while the students have fun, says Mia Carpenter, math coordinator for Normandy schools.

“If a student is willing to get up on a Saturday, we need to offer something that is engaging,” Carpenter said. “We have budding engineers that need an outlet.”

Using real life experiences helps the students understand coding, she said. “For example, you have to rescue a family from a forest fire. How do you get the robot from point A to point B where the family is, using the codes?”

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