Login NowClose 
Sign In to chronicle-tribune.com           
Forgot Password
or if you have not registered since 8/22/18
Click Here to Create an Account
Close

Pre-K students learning STEM, coding skills

DAYS WITH DASH: Argyll Adventure Academy students crowd around Dash, an interactive robot, to heara greeting asit powers on.

BY Samantha Oyler - soyler@chronicle-tribune.com

With no knowledge of a similar program anywhere else in the surrounding area, Madison-Grant’s Summitville Elementary School is pioneering a program called Argyll Adventure Academy that will expose pre-kindergarten students to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“If they’re exposed to it early enough, it’ll be like second nature,” Summitville Principal Jackie Samuels said. The preschool STEM program was first announced back in May.

Students utilize tools like Dash, an interactive robot, to draw connections between technology and the coding that goes into it.

Dash responds to voices, sounds and commands given through students utilizing tablets.

While Dash is technically designed for children ages 6 and up, officials at Summitville have adapted his abilities to suit 4-year-olds too.

The little robot has a variety of accessories that he can interact with, like a colorful xylophone.

As students tap a key on an image of a xylophone on a tablet, Dash follows along, tapping the same key.

Jenna Langel, an innovative learning specialist with Five Star Solutions, said that while there is a specific STEM preschool program at Summitville, the focus doesn’t stop at a particular grade level.

“We’re trying to create 21st century ready students,” Langel said.

The older grade levels take on both “plugged” and “unplugged” coding activities.

“Kids love these hands-on experiences. … They don’t even know they’re getting exposed to science,” Mallory Raichel, a Summitville fifth- and sixth-grade science and social studies teacher, said.

She said that this program has been a learning experience for not only the students, but the teachers and administrators too.

Those involved in the program spent time going to information sessions and doing research on age-appropriate coding activities they could implement.

In an effort to keep kids in line with technology advancements, Raichel said some staff will be training to work with a 3-D printer soon.

Raichel also has an aquaponics system set up in her classroom, which creates a sustainable environment by combining aquaculture and hydroponics systems.

All these tools will help students gain skills they can use in the future.