Rising to the Challenge
By Sonya Chwyl
Middle school students have been building and programming their own LEGO Mindstorm robots, capable of everything from solve mazes to creating art!
It's all part of the Middle School Inventors Club, led by Annie Vallance.
Every year the club is given a challenge. This year, they were tasked with engineering a robot capable of creating art. Ms. Vallance says she chose the challenge because she wanted to find something open-ended that required creativity in the engineering of the robot's mechanics as well as the program it runs on.
Several students have already completed the challenge: Cole, Grade 7, successfully got his robot to write his name:
And fellow Grade 7 student Jason built a robot that drew a multi-coloured circle:
Jason and Cole both designed their robots from scratch based on their own original ideas. For the next big challenge, they're moving in opposite directions: Jason is designing a robot that can play tic-tac-toe with a person, and Cole is creating a robot capable of participating in a modelled search and rescue scenario.
The Inventors club is a self-directed, self-paced program that founded on the GNS philosophy of inquiry-based learning. Students are provided with tools, resources, and guidance, but work on their own ideas and designs at their own pace. The result is a fun, focused environment where students learn foundational computer science skills that they'll continue to build on throughout their time at GNS.
More novice students start out with simpler challenges. Right now, they're programming their robots to successfully move through any maze using sensors. The first champion of the maze is Grade 6 student Lara, whose robot recently completed the maze to many whoops and cheers from her audience!
Keep up the great work inventors!
The Middle School Inventor's Club meets every Thursday from 3:30 to 4:30 in Ms. Vallance's room.