Having young children get help with robotics from high school students proved to be beneficial for them and for the volunteers who worked with them.
At Garfield Elementary School, second graders learning lessons on Lego robotics were asked to come up with an original design. They came up with some amazing creations, including a humanoid figure with moving hands that stop on a signal from a motion sensor, a spinning machine that resembled a fan, and several cars.
The final lesson was presented by Cathy Law of Oregon State University’s science, technology, engineering and math education program, along with several volunteers. Two of the volunteers were students at the alternative high school in Corvalis, College Hill, who were fulfilling public service requirements for graduation.
Finding volunteers for the Lego robotics program which is for kindergarten through second grade is usually a challenge. Garfield is a dual language immersion school, so it is important to find volunteers who are bilingual.
According to Law, volunteers include members of the community and other high school students, however College Hill is a valuable partner because students have flexible schedules. This allows them to build relationships with the children.
The students are like older peer mentors, and the value is that kids get to envision what they might become in a few years. College Hill students report that they learned skills such as patience, and being able to present the lessons in an organized way, as children can sometimes be a bit chaotic.
“I was just trying to teach them to work together, because they never do,” said junior Dominik Heman who had attended Garfield as a child. He said it was nice to return. .
“Everything is a lot smaller,” he said.