Designing, Building and Programming

As part of their technology systems class, Babylon Junior High School seventh-grade students have been engaged in a new hands-on unit of study focused on automation. The three-week STEM-based project centers on the Lego Mindstorms program and encourages critical thinking, problem-solving skills and collaborative learning.

The unit is teaching the students how to construct a robot using Legos and then design a computer program to control the robot’s movements. The students are responsible for setting commands to address the distance the device will travel, how fast it will move, how it can overcome obstacles and how it will respond to sound.   

“Technology classes have evolved over the past several years from building simple objects using common tools to a full integration of electronic resources,” said teacher Brian Katz. “Through this project and others similar, we are fusing together science, technology, engineering and math lessons to engage students in meaningful learning . Students today are inherently creative – they want to not only design but also build while employing a higher level of thinking. This project helps to tap into that natural desire while evolving the way we approach a traditional subject included in the curriculum.”

While the computer-based robotics program is currently only being utilized in the seventh-grade course, several upper-grade-level students with interest in the subject matter are currently working with Mr. Katz during free periods to learn the material.  

“Student-to-student mentoring has always been a component of our program,” explained Mr. Katz. “As they become more experienced with the subject matter, students in the older grade levels volunteer their time to assist younger peers with projects and to share knowledge of subject matter. It truly lends to an enriched learning experience for both parties.”  

The new unit also complements several of the topics covered in the advanced courses, including the 3D modeling study in the eighth grade and the high school elective focused on manufacturing and construction.