Last month I was fortunate enough to take part in a robotics workshop for our teachers and students at Chanleas Dai Junior High School. Nicole Richards, a software development group manager from National Instruments, and Christy Lauridsen, an engineer working for IBM, visited us from Texas in order to teach us how to use LEGO’s innovative WeDo robots in our Creative Learning Classes.
The three-day workshop gave our teachers an opportunity not only to learn about robotics and engineering from two professionals in the field, but also to teach their students with the advice and help of these talented professionals.
What was most impressive to me as an educator was the instant effect WeDos had on the classroom. The students were highly engaged, but that’s only a small piece of excellent teaching. What the WeDos brought to the Creative Learning classroom was an easily implemented model of student-centered learning.
Rather than providing instructions or telling students how to make a given robot, our teachers were able to stand back and facilitate exploration and individual learning. Instead of giving answers, they encouraged students to explore on their own, only stepping in to encourage involvement and ease frustration.
The results were incredible. It was amazing to see the students learning so much so quickly, but also to see our teachers falling into the role of education facilitators with such ease. It was, in many ways, the kind of classroom every teacher dreams of. Students were actively engaged, learning the material at hand while also developing problem-solving skills and expanding their ability to feed their own curiosity.
Perhaps these students will never touch a robot again outside of this class, but the skills they learned at the workshop go deeper than that. Confidence, investigation, observation, persistence in the face of failure, devising questions, answering them, and sharing those answers with others—it was the type of learning that teaches students how to learn, an example of education at its most sustainable.
Here are some reflections on the day by Christy Lauridsen:
We loved the experience of working with the teachers and students of Chanleas Dai.
We were impressed with how quickly the students picked up robotics programming and began developing their own creative inventions using the robotics kits.
The students were enthusiastic about using engineering to make a difference in their own communities—for example, by designing new solutions for farming, pumping water, and disposing of waste.
We gained valuable perspective on opportunities and challenges in rural Cambodia that will influence the educational programs and tools we design back home.
We are inspired by PEPY’s work in Cambodia. We are so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with PEPY!
Thank you Nicole & Christy for joining us and for leading such an inspiring workshop in Chanleas Dai! If you like to see some pictures from the workshop, check them out here. We look forward to using what we learn as we continue to expand our Creative Learning Classes.