IRVINGTON, N.Y. -- Thanks to a flexible learning space, a variety of tools and computer hardware, a group of Irvington Middle School students are working together to build robots.
Eighth-grade students in Marcus Oates’ technology class have been engaged in project-based learning experiences since the beginning of the school year, gaining knowledge through sustained inquiry in an environment that’s conducive to group discussions, research and hands-on activities.
The learning space, which features triangular and crescent-shaped tables, cabinets with whiteboard space on the back and mobile teacher podiums, can be configured in ways that best support the students’ needs, enhancing both their digital and physical educational experiences.
“Having a flexible learning space has been essential to the success of the eighth-grade technology course and helps reinforce the concept that the learning process is different for all students,” Oates said. “Having the flexible lab is a wonderful tool in helping all students feel successful.”
The students have been learning approximately 11 different mechanisms that are found throughout the world and used in almost every object that has moving parts, researching why the mechanisms are used and investigating their different applications.
“This is our second unit of the year, and each group is currently building a few of the mechanisms before teaching the other groups in the class about the purpose and application of them,” Oates said. “Students are learning how robots function so that they can delve into using robotics to solve a problem.”
As students gain more knowledge about how robots are constructed and how different mechanisms are used, they will solve a design challenge by building robotic systems like self-driving vehicles.
“The lab will support these next steps because students will need to be able to quickly and effectively switch between research and construction roles,” Oates said. “There will be many projects that require varying degrees of usable space and students will be in different spots throughout the curriculum – some in building, some in programming and some in testing.”