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The Highs and Lows of 21st Century Education

January 12, 2016
By Good2Know Staff Writers
One Student's Story...

At the beginning of the year, when 7th grader Payton Gablehouse signed up for electives, her first choice was visual arts. Art was ultra-popular among her friends, which is why she found herself to be one of the few girls down the hall sitting in Robotics Class.  "I didn't know what we would be doing in Robotics and I wasn't really excited about it.” She confessed, “I had a hard time at first, especially learning the gears."

Robotics teacher Rhonda Schimon said Payton's uncertainty isn't unusual. Students who are new to the class find the rigor to be challenging and are surprised when they aren't handed a set of instructions. Instead of instructions, they have an engineering notebook and are part of a team consisting of mechanical engineers, a computer engineer and an electrical engineer. They learn their roles, how to create a mechanical drawing, program a computer and download it into their project, or write an electrical diagram; all the while learning how to brainstorm, problem-solve and collaborate to create and follow specifications.

As education continues to advance globally, your gifts are helping Payton learn at her highest level in a Project Lead the Way (STEM) class right here at CCS.

The competition among teams in the class energizes the learning process. Payton and other students sometimes come in after school to reprogram or improve the performance of their team's car or robot. Mrs. Schimon noted, "Sometimes I come in and I see these mobs around the tables and they're talking and moving around, finding trial and error successes of their own initiative; and that's what we want".

Payton said Robotics class has helped her grow in her ability to be a part of a team and welcome others' ideas. Until now she preferred to lead and do most of the work in collaborative projects to ensure a high grade. "...but Robotics is something completely new," she added, "and I'm just like, I don't know what I am doing here so you can take it from here."

Payton expressed the highs and lows of Robotics so far: first day of class, and learning gears and ratios, low. Drawing and pasting wings onto their mechanical dragon, high. Learning through trial and error, both, but definitely low when her team's line-tracker robot just went in circles and was nicknamed the doughnut machine. "It was pretty sad." When asked what her favorite part of the class is, she said, "After a project is finished, and it works, and I'm just like, wow I built this", a well-earned high every time. This process of trial and error learning builds the kind of confidence that comes from hard won accomplishments; and you can hear it in Payton's voice when she talks about Robotics: "Thank you for your gift. This class is fun and challenging, and has helped me grow."

Your gift to 21c Education is raising-up leaders, innovators, and confident team players who will have the skills to confront 21st century challenges. ...and it has made a lasting impact on Payton Gablehouse, one of the few girls down the hall from art, in her second choice elective class, Robotics.