#9 November 8, 2019

9.  November 8, 2019

Hello Black River Falls community!  This is Dr. Shelly Severson, Superintendent of the SDBRF, and I’m here to share this weeks’ Spotlight on Schools.  This week I am super excited to talk to you about some great robotics and computer programming or coding that is being done by our students!

Perhaps you have heard of the STEM initiative?  STEM, in the educational world, stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. You may often hear about the need to increase opportunities in the STEM areas as it always incorporates problem solving, critical thinking, and the ability to work in teams.  Do these topics all sound familiar? They are absolutely the three areas that employers tell us they are looking for! The ability to problem solve, think about a problem or situation critically, and the ability to work well with others.  

Recently, some hard working fifth and eighth graders were able to participate in a VEX robotics competition in Whitehall.  Earlier, our District hosted an event and were excited to be able to welcome some of our neighboring districts out to the Ho-Chunk Nation’s District 1 Community Center as the site.  As the events happen during the school day and take up a lot of space, we were appreciative of their partnership!

So what happens at these events?  Robotics events include the students building their own machines out of the pieces that are included. The contest identifies the “work” that the students will need their machine to do so the students have an idea of what shape and size and possible configuration of the parts they want to use.  Once they have their robotic device built, they get to the computer programming, which is often called coding, to instruct their device how it is supposed to move and react. This is not a remote control device that they simple hit the lever, it is careful calculations and engineering in a unique and engaging way! 

 VEX competitions challenge students to design and build a robot to play on a designated course. This year's course required the students to place orange balls into or on top of cubes, to move red and blue cubes from one end of the playing field to the other, and to also place green cubes on top of platforms of varying heights.

Other coding examples that happen in our schools are ball like devices that can easily roll around on the floor, however, students are challenged  to lay out a course, either on paper or with tape, and then they continuously adjust the programming of the device until they can make their ball device complete their course without rolling off the paper or tape path.  Truly, this sounds like an amazing feat when it is considered by an older generation that didn’t grow up with a mini-computer, or cell phone, that they carry in their pocket every day!

Some people say that schools haven’t changed all that much over time.  If you were to choose to spend a day watching these young students program a device that doesn’t move on it’s own, to suddenly complete a task that has been assigned, you would be AMAZED at what our kids are capable of!

I guess it’s true that if you need help with some type of technology device, you should probably go ask a kid for help!

Once again, I’d like to share some feedback that we received from one of our parents during our Feedback Survey last spring. Today we are going to hear from a high school parent as they share some appreciation toward Mr. Youngthunder, a Social Studies teacher.  “Mr Youngthunder has done a great job. Pulling information from a teenager isn’t easy but these are two teachers I hear positive things about at least weekly from my child. He seems to take an interest in each kid personally as well. Knowing something that is special about each one.”  We couldn’t agree more!  Mr. Youngthunder gets involved in many of the student clubs and activities and genuinely invests in all of his students - we are thankful he chooses to work with us!

As always, if you have any questions about any of this information, or anything else for that matter, please reach out and let me know!  Thank you for all you do to support our students and let’s continue showing our Tiger Pride in all that we do!

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