By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal
The 7-year-old adjusts a final brick and moves back to double check to see if the code she entered is correct. She then sets the robot down and smiles as her creation whirs and moves into action. For her, everything is awesome.
This is what some first and second graders at Ladera Palma will experience in the schools new after school Lego robotics program.
The program officially started last Thursday, but Principal George Lopez started the wheels going on this concept as soon as he became principal in the fall. Lopez was vice principal at Washington Middle School and was instrumental in helping establish that schools robotics program.
“We always thought how great would it be if we could start the kids with it at an earlier age,” Lopez said. “When I came over to Ladera Palma as a principal, one of the things I wanted to start was a STEM program.”
STEM is the acronym for science, technology, engineering and math, which has become an educational priority in American schools.
Inspiring learning and helping to build successful students who are ready to the ever changing world of technology is a goal for schools. The big push is to find ways to get students more excited about the science fields that will help them throughout their academic careers. The Lego robotics program is a way to do that at an early age.
“It teaches them concepts in engineering, definitely implements math and technology, which is the use of the computer and basic programming that comes with the Lego kit,” Lopez explained. “It clearly is a part of science.”
Lopez added that it also integrates the “Four Cs”, which includes: critical thinking, collaborating, communication and creativity.
The start of the program at Ladera Palma marks the first time a program like this has been started at the K-2 level in the La Habra City School District. Washington Middle School has been successful with a robotics program and some of the 3-5 schools like Walnut and Los Positas have started similar STEM programs.
The program is 6-8 weeks and the initial class is made up of 30 first and second graders, which are then broken up into teams of 4-5 children. Lopez himself teaches the program.
“I had experience with the program from Washington,” he explained. “So when we brought the Legos over it wasn’t that foreign to me. It was just a matter of doing it with Legos and formatting it to a first and second grade level.”
Lopez said he hopes is to increases the class offerings and get other teachers trained to teach the program.
He added that the goal is to get the children excited about science and technology and “most of all want to get the kids excited about applying their learning to other things.”