Computer Coding & Robotics, Innovative Learning

We are competing with games and phones. This is interactive and engaging.” - Joanna Woodson Elementary Principal Eddie Marshall

A “Space Lab” at Joanna Woodson Elementary. 



Second of 3 parts


For Eddie Marshall it was exciting enough to know that a space-age lab set up in his school would make his students’ eyes go wide. “We get to learn on those? Wow!”

Then, he was trained on the use of Acellus STEM - 10.

“You can learn HVAC. You can learn languages. There are remediation lessons,” enthused Marshall, principal of Joanna Woodson Elementary School. “You can do assignments below grade level, or above grade level. I can see us becoming the remediation center for the whole district.”

Acellus at JWES and Project Lead the Way Launch at Clinton Elementary are two Innovative Learning initiatives embraced this year by District 56. During Acellus training, teachers from Greenwood District 50 attended and were impressed by the range of lessons available from the lab that looks like something out NASA. Students work at their own pace, and teachers through a central computer monitor can see if they are goofing off.

“We are competing with games and phones,” Marshall said. “This is interactive and engaging.”

Last Wednesday, Marshall showed off 5th graders working on math on their Acellus work stations. Now the lab is available for 3rd through 5th graders in science and math. Gifted and Talented students have access to the individualized learning, and soon the lab will be open to all classes.

Through it, JWES will able to teach computer coding to first graders - as State Department of Education standards mandate all elementary schools to do. There are two ‘bots - one for beginners and another for more sophisticated computer coding lessons.

This is the closest Acellus lab to Upstate South Carolina. Marshall said others are functioning in the Beaufort area. “The students get instant feedback,” he said.

“When we get all teachers trained, all students will be able to use it in their classrooms with Chromebooks and iPads. This meets the new computer standards.”

Marshall is sharply focused on what the learning innovation can do for his students, of course, but he also can see the larger vision. “Our 3rd graders have used it for grammar. There is course recovery all the way through high school” - something that could have a tangible effect on District 56’s graduation rate, and work and college readiness.

And here’s what Acellus says about its ability to educate the next generation of computer coders:

“In the first year of STEM-10, students take lessons starting from square zero and then advance step-by-step through the fundamentals of coding. In the first half of the year, the course builds a baseline understanding of the concepts needed to learn coding.

“In the second half of the year, the students are introduced to Cellus Bot, a teaching robot which is equipped with lights, motor, and senors, all of which are controlled by block coding modules included as part of the course. As an additional touch, the Bot sports a laser which draws shapes and circles as the robot dances. The built-in accelerometer supports program-controlled responses to movements and positioning the Bot. Students first learn how to control the robot in the most simplistic manner, but the lessons develop in complexity as the course progresses.

“In the second year of STEM-10, students are introduced to a sophisticated new dancing robot called AC-D2 which is equipped with snazzy lights, ultrasound sensors, and multiple motors. AC-D2 comes ready to move. It can sway, twist, and dance around with approximately 10,000 possible step combinations giving it a great style on the dance floor.

“Students learn to program the more advanced robot through the Level 2 Acellus coding course, which teaches students to syntax needed to program in JavaScript. This allow students to engage in serious coding tasks that will control the robot’s personality and movements.”

Also, Acellus says, the International Academy of Science is focused on helping schools deploy the Acellus STEM Robotic Labs and STEM curriculum for special needs learners. 

A recent study found that of students on the Autism Spectrum Disorder, 34% choose a STEM-related career. That’s opposed to 20% of their peers of college age. (STEM is science, technology, engineering, math).


Next: CES, and Project Lead the Way Launch

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