SUMMIT, NJ - Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School (LCJSMS) students are receiving hands-on technology and science experience courtesy of a Summit Educational Foundation-funded program that has brought LEGO Mindstorm EV3 robots into their curriculum.

Students build and program LEGO Mindstorm EV3 Robotic Sets in the 7th Grade cycle course, Technical Education, and the 8th Grade cycle course, Innovative Design Challenges, both taught by Ann Dooley, Technical Education and STEAM teacher at LCJSMS.

After building their robot with parts supplied in the LEGO Mindstorm EV3 kit, the students then bring them to life, learning to create a program which makes their robot move. The programming blocks in the EV3 software were created by the Computer Science Student Network (CS2N) which is a collaborative research project between Carnegie Mellon University and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) designed to increase the number of students pursuing advanced Computer Science and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (CS-STEM) degrees. Students are challenged to make their robot turn, spin, and go backwards, as well as forward.

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Ella McCormick and Lauren Jackson, both 7th Graders, were enthusiastic about their robotics experience saying, “Building and programming our robot is not stressful, but really fun! We can always try and try again until we get it right.”

Dooley is excited to teach this cycle course stating, “The LEGO Mindstorms have enhanced our 7th Grade curriculum and the students have dived right into them. They enjoy putting them together and learning to program the robot. They are not afraid to make mistakes, and take risks with their programming. I have really enjoyed watching their faces as they watch their robot do exactly what they wanted it to. Often you will hear a loud 'yeah!' or 'this is cool'. Students are totally engaged during this unit.”

To find out more about SEF, visit sefnj.org.