Robotics and Technology
The world is just a click away may seem like a cliché; but, it could not be more true. Technology is becoming an everyday instructional tool at Tahlequah Public Schools. From research to virtual field trips, students and teachers alike are accustomed to learning with technology. Recently, Greenwood Elementary third grade teacher, Elizabeth Rader, attended the 23rd Annual Space Exploration Educators’ Conference at the Space Center in Houston. With a click of a button, she spoke with her classroom of students and the entire student body during face time calls while at the Space Center. Students were excited to see Mrs. Rader giving a personal tour in real time. She reported teachers from eight countries and 41 states attended the conference. Workshops during the 3 days covered a wide range of STEM topics, including International Space Station resources, the Orion Mission to Mars, Space Exploration History, Rocketry, and Robotics. She also had the opportunity to participate with a team to build a simulated Lunar Outpost complete with solar panels, atmospheric controls, and hydroponics. Mrs. Rader toured Johnson Space Center’s Vehicle Mock-Up (where astronauts train for missions) and Mission Control where she was fortunate enough to talk with a Space Station Flight Director who shared his experience of “falling in love with space” when he was in third grade.
Congratulations to Greenwood’s 2017-18 Teacher of the Year, Tammy Wilson. As a teacher of third grade, Mrs. Wilson has seen 21st century learning impact her classroom. As a 13-year veteran teacher, she has watched student engagement increase through use of technology. Beginning her career in New Mexico, technology only supported skill practice. Career teachers have become students in learning the uses of technology in the classroom beyond skill practice. Mrs. Wilson agrees there are fears with new technology, but she has learned to embrace learning these skills, many times with the help of her students.
TPS is committed to providing tools for 21st century learning. Students in grades three and six received Chromebooks as a part of a long-range plan for a one-to-one technology initiative. Students in the district’s Kindergarten classes incorporated a set of five tablets in daily activities. Supporting the district’s technology initiative, Greenwood Elementary added 120 tablets divided among 30 classrooms through an OETT grant received this year. Professional development provided by Oklahoma University’s K20 Center was an additional benefit allowing teachers to gain knowledge of instructional use of tablets. Community stakeholders such as the Tahlequah Education Foundation and Tahlequah Community Fund have given generous support to our technology needs. Thank you to our community for supporting our schools.
Tahlequah Public Schools support robotics instruction through Boys & Girls Club programs in the elementary schools and middle school. Coaches use Vex IQ kits and provide curriculum to begin with a basic robot. Students learn about simple machines and motion, gearing, center of gravity, friction, and sensors.
Recently, seven TPS teams traveled to Lawton to participate in the Oklahoma Vex IQ Championship. Teams participated in Design Notebook, STEM Research, Team Work Challenges, and Driving and Programing Skills competition. Greenwood teams Rocking Robots placed 4th in driving and programming skills challenges, Bot Boys placed 8th in teamwork challenges, Incredibots won the award for Design Notebook and BotBusters won Elementary Overall Excellence. Incredibots and BotBusters will move on to the Vex IQ World’s Championship to be held in Louisville, Kentucky in April to compete with teams from all over the world. Heritage EagleBots won the STEM research award also qualifying them to move on to the World’s Championship. Congratulations to the hard-working teams designing, building and cooperating as they prepare for the future.