From programming robots to using slime to create an electrical current – STEM education is a part of Lourdes Academy Life. Two after-school clubs allow students to take their classroom education to the next level using hands-on activities to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).
STEM Robotics Club
The STEM Robotics Club is led by middle school math teacher Major Greg Wilson, a retired Marine who is in his first full year as a teacher. In STEM Robotics, fourth- to eighth-graders create code for robots to perform tasks, build with mechanical Legos, and create designs for 3D printing.
“The goal of the STEM Robotics Club is to have fun and to have students recognize that STEM careers are attainable by every student,” Major Wilson said. “For more advanced students, I want to teach them the foundations of Computer Science and get them excited about the world of technology to hopefully provide them a jump start in an advanced course of study in tech.”
Every student in the club gets hands-on time with the Sphere Bolt Robots. With thirty robots owned by the school, each student has the chance to program the robot and see immediate results. The robots have an accelerometer, gyroscope, and mechanical engine for mobility. For example, a robot can make a sound or turn a different color when it reaches a certain speed or G-force.
“The technology is amazing,” explains Major Wilson. “I really enjoy watching the students take the basics of what I am giving them and develop their own version of the product – they can take it further and make it better. They are creative and innovative and can adapt and apply the concepts I’m teaching.”
Another after-school option for fourth to eighth graders is STEM Club, led by middle school science teacher Leslie Powers. Powers has taught science at Lourdes Academy for six years after retiring as a veterinarian.
STEM Club focuses on all of the STEM concepts by offering hands-on activities such as using slime to power an LED blub red, green, or blue or building a model of a functioning hand using string and straws, and so much more.
“STEM is an integral part of the future workforce,” said Powers. “Working as a team, communicating, and problem-solving is an important life skill useful for any chosen career. Students need to know that failure is a necessary part of success.”
The students often use household supplies in their STEM activities and work together as a team to execute the project. But the key in STEM Club and STEM Robotics Club is the practical application of science, technology, engineering, and math principles while having fun.
“I love the excitement and joy that the students bring to every meeting,” says Powers. “Their smiling faces and cheers are priceless as their team achieves success after struggling outside their comfort zone.”
Seventh-grader Skyla Nicely is one of those students that has stepped out of her comfort zone to experience both the STEM Club and STEM Robotics Club.
“Skyla is great with language arts and is a good writer,” shares Skyla’s grandma, Charlotte Nicely. “Math last year was a challenge when they got into algebra. She gets good grades, but she has to work for an A in math. At the STEM clubs, Skyla must apply those math skills to their projects and coding. I can see she is learning that upper-level math concepts are needed in STEM careers.”
Charlotte Nicely says Lourdes Academy has been an excellent fit for Skyla, who has attended for six years. After a two-year break in public school, Charlotte brought Skyla back to Lourdes Academy.
“In some of these large public schools with thousands of kids, the students are just a number,” remembers Nicely. “Everyone at Lourdes Academy knows Skyla all the way from the principal to each member of the faculty. I love that it is a Christian-based school, and it shows. The classes are a good size, and academically they have done a great job with Skyla’s education. Skyla is looking forward to attending Fr. Lopez Catholic High School and continuing her Catholic education.”
If you are interested in learning if Lourdes Academy could be a good fit for your child, contact the School Office at 386-252-0391 or email Enrollment Specialist Mirtha DeWitt for a campus tour at firstname.lastname@example.org.