STEM Learning Lab Featured In The Calgary Herald

Thanks to STEM Learning Lab, a handful of Calgary schools are looking at robots as new tool for teaching math and science!

It’s no secret — most kids hate math. But what if playing with robots was part of the equation?

Rundle College Elementary School is one of a handful of Calgary schools exploring the use of robots to facilitate learning around more daunting subjects like math and science.

Principal Ron Clark said he was elated to see his Grade 5 students so excited to learn after running a series of “Robot Rumble” workshops through STEM Learning Lab, a new education start-up in Calgary focused on engaging students through robotics.

Students spent three-hour sessions learning how to program robots, and then put their programming skills to the test with robot-to-robot competitions.

“The kids said it was so much fun,” Clark said. “It’s the whole idea of showing kids that things like math and science can be fun — it’s very important to get them intrigued and interested.”

Gina Cherkowski, co-founder and director of learning for STEM Learning Lab, said with how quickly the digital age is evolving, technological literacy is essential for students.

As the demand for STEM-based (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) employees continues to trend upwards, Cherkowski said teachers need to find new ways to get their students interested in subjects typically seen as boring or too difficult.

Enter, robotics.

“I was a high school math teacher for years and I heard so many students say, ‘I hate math,’” Cherkowski said. “But everyone can learn it, and one of the best ways I’ve found is having kids play with robots.”

Cherkowski said teaching students how to program robots has students actively participating and thinking about subjects like math and science in a non-traditional way.

“It provides multiple entry ways for students to get into math and technology,” Cherkowski explained. “This is the shift we’re taking in education, and we need to do it so our kids are prepared for a future requiring math and science.”

Rundle’s Clark said that his own school’s success with STEM pedagogy has Rundle — and several others in Calgary like Ernest Manning High School and Sunalta School — looking at expanding or incorporating robotics programs into their curriculum.

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