Small Robots Enhance Learning at Brownwood Middle School Through Teaching Grant
Article by: Sara Musgrove
Brownwood Education Foundation provided the Brownwood Middle School Seventh Grade Science Teachers with a $3,000 grant to purchase innovative tools for their classrooms for the 2022-23 school year. “The new Science TEKS are adding in coding and other STEAM activities,” said BMS Science Teacher Shantel Elrod. Science, technology, engineering, arts, and math studies (STEAM) impact today’s educators and every student. “I went to the STEAM Region Fifteen Conference last summer and saw the Ozobot, and thought they were a great way to add coding and problem-solving skills to the science classroom,” Elrod said. The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), which are the state standards for what students should know and be able to do, include a myriad of elements, from scientific investigation and reasoning, to force, motion, and energy, to organisms and environments. The science classroom continues to advance into problem-solving and innovative incorporation of robotics.
“The Ozobot is a small robot that uses a color code,” Elrod said. “They follow a black line and when the bot moves over a color combination, that codes the bot [to perform different functions].” Students can either draw a color code on paper or create it digitally, and the robot will perform the functions the code creates. Ozobot, an award-winning robotic platform, makes it easy for students to learn and explore coding. The small robot is semi-autonomous and portable. Older students can use advanced coding, while younger students learn basic functions to program the behavior of the robot. Ozobot’s website states that this tool brings, “coding into the classroom regardless of grade level and empowers students to code in all classrooms.” This tool enhances learning the TEKS, such as the Earth and Space requirement that students, “identify the characteristics of our solar system.” The planetary orbit model can be created on paper and then demonstrated by the Ozobots.
“The BEF looks for opportunities to impact kids through the annual grants,” said Eric Evans, the BEF Board Vice President. “When we can help teachers engage their students in creative methods, everyone benefits.” Seventh graders at BMS will be using the Ozobot to learn the physical application of scientific knowledge, which enhances understanding and increases engagement. “We want our students to be problem-solvers with this project,” Elrod said. “All middle schoolers will benefit from this project, not just ones enrolled in robotics.”
Above: A close-up view of an Ozobot as pictured on the product website.
Above: Brownwood Education Foundation presents Brownwood Middle School Seventh Grade Science Teachers with a grant to purchase innovative tools for their classrooms for the 2022-23 school year.