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Students learning many skills through robotics

Katie Eischens and Sally Yliniemi demonstrate how to use LEGO robots to complete challenges and tasks in the classroom. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

By Anna Erickson

Park Rapids students are learning math, problem solving, teamwork and more through hands-on Lego Mindstorms robotics projects.

Park Rapids Area Schools received a 3M Ingenuity grant to purchase the Lego robotics equipment and software.

Eighth grade science teacher Morgan Marcussen and some of her students showed the Park Rapids Area School Board some of the projects they have been working on in class.

Robotics is a quarter class and students meet every day during that quarter, Marcussen said.

Students are paired up and work through the steps of building a device and programming it using a computer to complete challenges.

“They get harder and harder as they go along,” Marcussen said.

Students use math from the start to figure out how to complete the challenges, she said.

Some of the projects include a color sorter and moving vehicles that complete mazes.

“They are really versatile,” Marcussen said. “It’s neat because the program is very self-paced.”

While some students might have a lot of experience with Legos, others might not have used them previously. Lego wants the program to fit for all students and skill levels, Marcussen said.

Teamwork becomes a large focus because there are only about a dozen of the robotics kits while there are 26-28 students in a class.

Students learn STEM concepts, which refers to science, technology, engineering and math.

According to Lego, in 1998, the Lego Group revolutionized the world of popular and educational robotics with a pioneering concept: Lego Mindstorms.

“Teachers immediately realized the power of this hands-on technology and curriculum in engaging and motivating students to learn science, technology, engineering, and math concepts while equipping them with the real-world knowledge and 21st century skills required to be successful in today’s global society,” Lego’s website states.

In addition to the eighth grade curriculum, Terry Zoller is working on robotics with fifth graders.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561