Wednesday, August 12th, 2015
Robots may be wave of future for Coldwater schools
By Jared Mauch
COLDWATER - Robots may soon join the computers already in use in Coldwater classrooms.
Gifted coordinator Pat Naveau on Tuesday talked to Coldwater Exempted Village Board of Education members about two robotics camps students attended over the summer.
Robotics will have a big impact on the area's economic future, a county official noted.
"On behalf of Mercer County businesses, this is key. We thank you for allowing for the students and the teachers to go to this," Mercer County Community Development Director Jared Ebbing said. "It's kids learning by doing and there's not enough of that. It's not the teachers' fault because you have to do what you have to do from the state's perspective, but it's all about teach, memorize and take a test. I know with my kids if I tell them, they're going to forget. If I teach them to do something I hope they remember but you involve them, now they learn it."
Seventeen fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders went to a Lego robotics camp at Wright-Patterson Air Force base near Dayton and six eighth-graders attended a VEX Robotics camp at Wright State University-Lake Campus in Celina.
"Our initial goal of this was to give kids an opportunity to learn some programming and learn some things about robotics, to give teachers the opportunity to see how they might want to incorporate robotics in the classroom and to learn right along with the students and to give students hands-on activity and exposure," Naveau said.
The camps focused on science, technology, engineering and math.
"We've done some discussions following the camp. I think there's a strong desire to incorporate more STEM activities and STEM instruction for kids," Naveau said.
Middle and high school science teacher Nick Fisher wants to expand use of robots in the classroom this year if funds are available, she added.
Middle school principal Dan Pohlman said school officials must create a long-term plan to incorporate robots into the classroom.
The eighth-grade camp lasted three days and students created robots out of used metal and plastic components. The other grades had a five-day camp and used Legos to create robots.
Mercer County ESC has a competition mat used for VEX robots teachers may use for their own camp or competition, Ebbing said.
The Chromebooks for the third- and fourth-graders will arrive soon, elementary school principal Ted Shuttleworth said. The computers will be stored in carts in each classroom and students will each be assigned a specific unit.
Board member Todd Bills was adamant about encouraging students to use Chromebooks as much as possible.
"We need to get as much of our classrooms online and on Chromebooks because the online student universe is going to get larger and larger and we're going to lose public school students to online teaching facilities. They're not going to come to our school anymore," he said.
Board members also,
• agreed to sign a petition at their Sept. 8 meeting opposing the state takeover of the troubled Youngstown school district. Gov. John Kasich recently signed House Bill 70 appointing a state CEO to assume control of the district. The Ohio School Boards Association is asking people to sign a petition opposing the move, Bills said.
• approved the list of students for open enrollment for the upcoming school year.
• approved the bus routes for the 2015-2016 school year.
• approved the adoption of "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio for use in fifth-grade language arts classes.
• approved a 4.7 percent pay increase for treasurer Michelle Mawer retroactive to Aug. 1 from $84,048 per year to $88,000 per year.
• approved the athletic trainer contract with Rehabilitative Services for the 2015-2016 school year.
• approved the activity budget of $1,000 for the National Honor Society for the upcoming school year.
• approved the substitute teacher list from the Mercer County ESC for the 2015-2016 school year.
• approved foreign exchange students Eva Bayood Orozco and Suendy Lima Nunes to live with Julie and Dennis Lee and Andrea Valentini to live with Donna and Eric Hemmelgarn for the upcoming school year.