Robotics, STEM, and Language Learning at Prince George’s County Schools (Maryland, USA)
Prince George’s County Schools, a large school district in the USA, uses Robo Wunderkind in their dual language immersion programs and science classes to create an interdisciplinary STEM experience for their students. Not only are students solving real-life problems and designing engineering solutions, but they are also acquiring literacy skills and new languages through interactive learning with Robo Wunderkind. Learn how the district is using innovative educational technology to enhance student language learning and STEM learning experiences.
The PGCPS, short for Prince George County Schools, is located in Maryland, USA. It is one of the nation’s 20th largest school districts in the United States and the second-largest school system in Maryland. The district currently uses over 50 Robo Wunderkind kits across different Elementary Schools that offer Dual Language Immersion Programs. Besides introducing Robo Wunderkind in Literacy and Language Acquisition subjects, PGCPS integrated our tools in STEM classes at the Howard B. Owens Science Center. PGCPS stands for an immersive experience that brings STEM closer to students in a way they understand, in order to support their creativity through developmental, exploratory learning.
We discussed this in-depth with two of their educators, Carmen Henninger, who oversaw the Immersion Programs, and Sallie Smith from the Science Center. At Robo Wunderkind, we advocate for the interdisciplinary potential of STEM tools. In fact, we’ve explored the topic in both theory and practice (Read up on it in one of our older articles.) In short, since STEM can be so versatile, while coding in itself is an interdisciplinary process, they are the perfect tools to teach children the intricate processes of creating things, solving problems and offering good solutions. These can apply to STEM and beyond, and essentially, it is something every field and subject can benefit from. As such, STEM skills should simply be seen as another form of literacy.
We encourage the use of Robo Wunderkind in different lessons, and our curriculum even offers a good stepping stone for this - with dozens of lessons spanning across art, music, math, and more. We were therefore excited to see the PGCS taking up that challenge and not only working with our tools and materials, but also developing their own to complement our tools and their objectives.
The Immersion Center offers intense courses that focus on three languages - Spanish, French and Mandarin. Their programs include Full Immersion, Dual Language Immersion, Partial Chinese/STEM, Dual Spanish/STEM, and more, while their student-centered approach is the perfect environment for collaborative STEM tools to thrive. The students are aged between 3 and 6 years and experienced Robo Wunderkind through, for instance, our lessons about animals and nature that were translated into Mandarin, Spanish, German and French. The students were tasked with building different robotic animals and exploring the language they studied in a wholly immersive fashion. Learning through play is something we (and science) fully stand behind.
Carmen Henninger said of her experience: ‘Robo Wunderkind is a very impactful tool that aids in our immersion programs and helps struggling learners, especially those whose first language is not English. We are also using Robo Wunderkind’s cross-disciplinary curriculum in our instruction: it provides ready, step-by-step resources for us to work with, which has been very helpful.’
Verbal skills (not just language skills per se) are some of the further soft skills that well-constructed STEM education can help develop. Students have to collaborate, communicate and negotiate when building their Robo Wunderkind projects, which pushes them to use language in new ways.
Secondly, we talked to Sallie Smith about her experience with Robo Wunderkind at the Science Center. Her students learned how to build and program Robo Wunderkind’s sounds and lights features before moving on to programming the Robo Rover, while using the more advanced Robo Code level. Building on the provided materials, Sally and her colleagues developed and implemented their own resource sheets. Together, they created a role-play scenario in which Robo Rover landed on and subsequently explored Mars, identifying different objects and avoiding obstacles on the way. Students had to guide Robo on its way, which strengthened their problem-solving skills, engineering design, testing, as well as collaboration.
‘It is pure joy when the teams implement their code for the Robo Wunderkind Robot their team built. Robo Wunderkind is an excellent robot for primary students to learn to build and code robots. Well built, safe, durable, color-coded and high functioning with real sensors that can be used to complete real missions.’
We’re more than excited to hear about this feedback. PGCS are an excellent environment for children to interact with STEM in novel and challenging ways, and we’re honored that Robo Wunderkind is there to guide them on their explorative curious journey. We remain convinced that interdisciplinary learning and well-constructed playful curricula set the standard for the future, which is why we’re more than ready to provide and collaborate on teaching materials with educators and learn from their tailor-made approaches when we work on further embellishments of our material.
Thank you to the Prince George’s County Schools for providing us with all their valuable feedback and for furthering our STEM-ed mission in their schools!
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