Allegheny West Teachers Learn Benefits of Robotics Program
Story by Tamaria L. Kulemeka
Allegheny West Conference (AWC) teachers did more than mull over educational theory at their recent in-service session. As a matter of fact, for most of the day, teachers tinkered, measured, programmed, tested and received a crash course in robotics.
Led by Robert Henley (pictured), communication director for the Southeastern Conference, the session revealed how the educators can harvest such robotics technology and improve the atmosphere at their conference schools: Columbus Adventist Academy in Columbus, Ohio, and Ramah Junior Academy in Cleveland.
“We can transform schools into STEM academies,” said Henley, referring to the country’s push to drastically improve science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education so that the abundance of jobs in those fields will not go unfilled. “You can become academic powerhouses. You can change the branding of your schools just by doing this,” added Henley, who leads the robotics program at Forest Lake Education Center (Fla.) and hosts a 10-day robotics camp each summer.
Henley emphasized how implementing such a program can boost the morale of students who may struggle with behavioral issues or lack of focus. “We teach the way we’ve been taught, but we need to see each student’s talents and gifts,” Henley said. “Let them see they are smart in something.”
Henley also brought along his youngest son, 9-year-old Brenden, who articulated how the program has benefitted him. The boy also assisted Henley in showing the AWC teachers how robotics work and encouraging them as they delved into uncharted territory.
Yvette Cooper, superintendent of schools, shares, “It excites me because the problem-solving math strategies that we have been emphasizing this year will be reinforced and implemented in real-life applications through this robotics initiative.”