UH Mānoa College of Education (COE) Assistant Professors Aaron Sickel and Stacy George collaborated with Robotics Education Specialist Adria Fung from the Hawai‛i Space Grant Consortium to host a professional development experience for elementary teacher candidates and current elementary teachers. The program, Bot Builders Code Camp (B2C2), provided participants with an introduction to robotics, engineering design, and coding.
“B2C2 was the most fun I’ve had learning,” said Trisha Kodama, a fourth grade teacher at Kāne‘ohe Elementary School. “I love learning new things and introducing them to my students. Coding with VEX Go and using the Engineering Design Process is something that I know will keep my students engaged and help them solve real-world problems.”
For one week in July, 16 participants worked together on the COE campus on a range of tasks using VEX robotics kits. They applied engineering principles to build a simulated spaceship, a supercar, and a rover, which they learned to code to perform the types of tasks that occur in NASA missions. The teachers also learned how to integrate these lessons into multiple content areas of the elementary curriculum and will have the opportunity to use the kits with their students.
Adriana Meza, who is earning her BEd in Exceptional Students & Elementary Education (ESEE), said, “I was so glad I took this course. It was really interesting to see how other people work on their rover designs and how they differ in their thought processes.”
Sickel explained that robotics is a contemporary, real-world and engaging context in which students can practice their STEM skills.
“The more we can help teachers, the more we will also help elementary learners begin their educational journeys with a solid foundation in STEM,” Sickel said. “The success of this camp has strengthened the partnership between the COE and the Hawai‘i Space Grant Consortium and motivates us to continue providing these professional development initiatives and ready-to-use resources for teachers.”