STEM Elementary students overcome frustrations to program computers and robots

In Mrs. Gasser’s fourth grade class at STEM School Highlands Ranch, patience is running thin.  The students are working on an assignment, and openly expressing their frustrations over the challenges of what they are asked to do.  Some of the parts are not fitting in the circuit board correctly.  The robot is not doing what they are asking it to do.  One team is getting ahead of another team.  There is a lot that is just not quite going according to plan, but, that actually is part of the plan and the assignment.

For this particular assignment, the students are split into two groups.  One group is working in teams to equip laptop computers with the hardware necessary to function.  Another group is working in teams in the hallway outside of the classroom, trying to program a fussy robot.  Through the frustration, the students are learning how to work as a team, and come up with solutions together.  Just like what they will discover in the real world, life can often throw a curveball or two.  The key is to rise above that frustration and look to your team for collaborative solutions.

“I’m pushing their level of frustration,” said Michelle Gasser.  “But, also teaching them to persevere through the hard parts.  So, they are looking at each other and when one person gets it, it motivates the others to get it as well.”

Mrs. Gasser’s students are working on Cue Robots and Pi-top laptop computers.  Both gadgets require the students to program them and give commands.  The idea is to get the students ready for what will be asked of them when they reach middle school age.

“So, bringing it into the classroom, getting them excited about Computer Science and what it is, allows them in middle school, when they take Computer Science courses, they can push them even further,” said Gasser.  “So, the students at this age, they are ready for this type of work.”

To see the full feature story about the assignment in Mrs. Gasser’s class, just click the video below.

Fourth grade students in Mrs. Gasser's class work together to install hardware into a Pi-top computer
Students in the hallway outside of Mrs. Gasser's classroom work in teams to program Cue Robots
Students admit the assignment was a bit frustrating, but that is also all part of the plan
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