Teachers Learn How to Coach Robotics Teams at NCCAT | NCCAT

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Teachers Learn How to Coach Robotics Teams at NCCAT

Educators spent four days at the NCCAT Cullowhee campus learning about the North Carolina FIRST LEGO League (NCFLL).

CULLOWHEE—Teachers from across North Carolina gained first-hand knowledge about STEM during the program “Lego Robotics: A Quick-Start Program for New Robotics Coaches” at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching, a recognized national leader in professional development programming for teachers.

Educators spent four days at the NCCAT Cullowhee campus learning about the North Carolina FIRST LEGO League (NCFLL). Teams of children in grades 4–8 compete by programming and designing LEGO MINDSTORMS robots to complete missions on a tabletop playing field. The teams also engage in research projects about real-life issues such as recycling and hydrodynamics. The competition is also available for high school.

The Lego Robotics program gave teachers the tools to start or improve a LEGO Robotics team at their school. NCCAT provided hands-on sessions for team logistics, robot programming, for leading research projects and finding support.

“It is great to be here and get to know other people who are starting these teams,” said David Hooper, a sixth-grade math teacher at Franklinton Middle School in Franklin County. “This was a wonderful opportunity…. It [Lego Robotics] gives kids critical thinking skills. They can develop skills to work together and solve problems that aren’t always possible in a classroom setting. That happens seamlessly in the LEGO program. Being able to learn here from others who have done it is very valuable.”

The program took place March 13–16 and was led by several presenters including Crystal Caudle, FLL coach, Fairview Elementary School; Kim Caudle, FLL coach, Fairview Elementary School; Channa De Silva, Associate Professor, Chemistry and Physics, Western Carolina University; Sloan Despeaux, Professor, Mathematics and Computer Science, Western Carolina University; Yee Kao, Assistant Professor, Chemistry and Physics, Western Carolina University; Larissa Miller, Director, Cullowhee Kids Preschool, veteran FLL coach; Paul Yanik, Assistant Professor, School of Engineering and Technology, Western Carolina University; Yanjun Yan, Assistant Professor, School of Engineering and Technology, Western Carolina University; and Sandra Bowling, Senior Program Associate, NCCAT.

Local school teams from Cullowhee Valley School, Fairview Elementary School, and Smoky Mountain High School interacted with teachers and shared stories during student demonstrations.

“Over three days, I watched a room of nervous, anxious, timid educators go from ‘I don’t know, and I hope no one notices’ to ‘Oh my gosh! ME, TOO!’ ” teacher Collyn Gaffney of Northeast Academy for Aerospace and Advanced Technologies in Elizabeth City wrote in her school’s newsletter about the program. “Languid exchanges of forced smiles transformed into ardent conversations and creative solutions. We slowly moved from ‘So, where are you from?’ into ‘I KNOW! I KNOW! I have the same problem!’ ”

The program is funded in part by the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation.

About NCCAT

Increasing teacher effectiveness is fundamental to improving public education. NCCAT provides teachers with new knowledge, skills, teaching methods, best practices and information to take back to their classrooms. For more information about NCCAT’s professional development programs, visit www.nccat.org or call 828-293-5202.

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Direct inquires to: Todd Vinyard Public Communications Specialist 828-293-5202 ext. 1219 [email protected]

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