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Robots creating big buzz in school

STEM education gaining importance in changing world

Courtesy photo Second-grader Audreigh Holden-Lager, 8, participates in a hands-on STEM activity at Spring Cove Elementary School.

Robotic bugs are creating a buzz in teaching young children STEM skills.

Bee-Bots, small robots that teach children coding and computational thinking, are helping younger students practice addition and subtraction and other critical skills.

Students have to plan out moves — forward, backward, left and right — required to move the Bee to a specific location.

Preschoolers, like students in grades K-2, are being introduced to Bee-Bots.

“Although it’s super basic coding, it’s getting kids thinking in the mindset of ‘if I do X, Y and Z, it’ll make this robot work,'” Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8, STEM Curriculum Specialist Sarah Brambley said.

STEM education in elementary schools is nothing new, but it has recently become more important because of “the way the world is changing,” according to Spring Cove Elementary Principal Adam Macak.

“I think there has been more of a focus on technology, to showcase it and highlight it,” Macak said. “There’s been a really added focus on it as of late.”

“(Bee-Bots) have little directional arrows, and (students) can code them to go on a map and land on an addition problem or subtraction problem and then the student has to give the answer,” Macak said. “So they can integrate curriculum-based skills with the STEM equipment, and it’s fun. They’re not only learning to code at an early age, but they’re also learning the curriculum.”

Cathay Breisacher, librarian at Foot of Ten Elementary School in Duncansville, uses Bee-Bots to incorporate STEM into promoting literacy.

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