Realizing Human Potential in the Age of Technology
This year, led by our STEM Specialist, Ms. Karen Harris, our Middle Years students had the opportunity to apply for a spot on our inaugural FIRST LEGO League Robotics Team. Our students were the only representatives from the Central Okanagan, with the goal of competing in the FIRST Robotics Competition in Victoria, BC.
Integrating FIRST LEGO League’s core values, teams are issued a STEM challenge that incorporates a real-world problem (such as food safety, recycling, energy, etc.) in order to formulate a solution. In addition, they must design, build, and code a robot to compete against other teams.
This year’s two-part “Into Orbit” challenge required teams to:
- Identify a physical or social problem faced by humans doing long duration space exploration and design a way to solve the problem and share their problem and solution with others.
- As a team, design a robot and various attachments using Lego Mindstorms that would allow the robot to interact with other Lego pieces on the competition game board. These pieces mimicked such things as solar panel arrays, space station modules and core-sampling extraction models.
Our Willowstone Academy team included 11 participants who designed, coded, and practiced for hours every week in preparation for their February competition.
With it being our first year competing in the FIRST LEGO League, our students soon came up against unanticipated challenges. As a team, they were challenged in making decisions around sharing the workload in order to finalize their solutions to the “Problem” and “Robot” components of the competition. Each team is required to have two adult coaches, but the strategizing and design is entirely student-driven. Their weekly practices were a true test of collaboration, communication, critical and creative thinking, and lots and lots of learning!
It was a joy to watch our students learn and grow through this program, in the ways that they prepared for the challenge of competing against other teams in Victoria.
Providing excellent barrier-free opportunities for all children, regardless of their socio-economic background, enriches our community and, ultimately, the future of our planet. This is what we want for our students at Willowstone Academy: to equip our students with relevant technological skills for a digital world as they realize their human potential.
In fact, the Core Competencies central to BC’s redesigned curriculum, along with the 4 C’s widely accepted in education as the skills of a 21st century learner, paint the full picture of what it means to realize human potential in the age of technology.
Access to technology equips our students to be self-directed and personalize their learning. In our rapidly changing world, with a future beyond what we can even imagine, the importance of design thinking and digital competencies is integral to unfold every child’s growth and potential.
Our goal is to grow our FIRST LEGO League next year by expanding to include more teams, including a Junior club for ages 6 – 10. We also need to increase our supply of robotics products, like Bee-Bots and LEGO Mindstorms in order to set students of all ages up for success in life and learning.
We look forward to engaging our school families and larger community at our upcoming Galaxy Fundraiser on Saturday, May the 4th, at The Innovation Centre. Our goal is to raise funds for technological advancement (which includes opportunities like FIRST LEGO League and coding programming for all ages) and personalized learning at Willowstone Academy. Tickets will be available at Eventbrite.ca beginning Monday, April 1st. Everyone is welcome!
Making Learning Visible,
Heather Sandager, Community Developer