The group of students, which included Faith Shiver’s 4th and 5th grade gifted and Jennifer Lester’s 3rd grade, began by discussing how robots are used in everyday life and then advanced their thought-process by drawing up plans for a robot of their own that they could invent to complete an unfavorable chore.
Students then split into groups to progress through the building blocks of programming. Each group had a robot with particular attributes and weaknesses as well as a problem to be solved with the robot. Students defined the requirements to solve the problem, determined the instructions to meet the requirements, and then tested the solution.
“Pablo” was a robot whose challenge was to draw squares and triangles with its specific attributes of creativity. “Herbie,” known for its reliability, was a robot whose challenge was to move forwards and backwards along a prescribed path. “Pupper” was a robot whose dexterity was an attribute that would be used to lift and move small tires within a time limit.
Trisha Atchley, IBM volunteer, reminded the students to think about “each tiny little step” as they considered how they might get the robot to do their bidding.
Shiver looks forward to each visit from the IBM team with her students because the students quickly realize that the computer or robot will only do what they tell it to do. If it doesn’t work, the kids have to figure it out.
“The one thing that I love is all of the problem solving,” said Shiver.
With the launch of IBM Volunteers in November 2003, IBM reinvented its support of employees and retirees whose volunteer work enriches the communities where we live and work. This innovative global program reflects IBM's strategy to help the world work better, making a wide range of knowledge and expertise available to volunteers online.
Scott Elementary students look forward to a return visit from the IBM team in the spring of 2019.