This weekend, I’m surrounded by nuts, bolts, and curly brackets. Our school’s inaugural season of Botball is about to begin and I’m in training with 3 students. We are learning software from KIPR (KISS Institute for Practical Robotics). Students will build, program, and solve a series of real-world problems with their robots in a competition later this spring. As students gathered around their laptops and dove into programming with C code, I stood back. As the team mentor, I’m am there to support the kids, but not grab the mouse, fix their code, or build their robot. I just get to watch them learn, support them, and enjoy the fun they are having. Not a bad day for a teacher.
I was watching kids interact with engineering students, dive into bags of materials and create, design a new way to do things. I saw collaboration, mistakes, celebration for success, and troubleshooting. I saw a bag of parts and boxes of supplies become a robot that not only worked, but that followed the program designed by the students. I saw kids’ eyes lighting up because this was clearly their passion, discovered maybe even just today.
I leave a day like today thinking about all the times I hear that there is no ‘time to teach science’ in America’s classrooms today. I wonder why something like Botball is reserved for outside of school. Something that there’s no time for in typical curriculum. Because, really, isn’t something like Botball everything our classrooms should be about, especially if our classrooms are really about learning?