Robotics Showcase Paves the Way for Innovations in STEM
Moore County is leading the way for North Carolina students by implementing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs in various lesson plans. STEM programs are being integrated into the school curriculum thanks to STEM lessons that introduce students to innovative ways of solving problems. Traditional education uses testing methods to measure students’ grade performance. Adding STEM lessons complements the school’s curriculum by helping students sharpen their problem-solving skills, which are helpful to students in the classroom and beyond.
On April 19th and 20th, The Region 6 Comprehensive Center (RC6) at the SERVE Center co-sponsored the 5th annual Building Engineers K-5 Classrooms Conference. On the second day of the Conference, a robotics showcase at Pinecrest High School featured 86 teams from all 13 elementary schools in Moore County.
Steve Johnson, SERVE’s STEM Specialist since 2021, led the event. Steve’s passion for growing high-quality STEM programs is evident in his work within schools, particularly with the work he does leading the annual Building Engineers in K-5 Classroom Conferences. Before joining SERVE, Steve was the Assistant Director of Technology for Moore County Schools.
Steve praises the teachers, Digital Integration Facilitators, and other support staff in Moore County Schools for pulling off such a fantastic event. “One of the greatest rewards of inviting educators from across the state to the event is how much love and applause they shower upon Moore County Schools’ elementary engineers,” said Steve.
It has been two years since the Conference was an in-person event, and you could feel the energy and the excitement in the building. “It’s incredible to come back and to be able to do this in person after over a two-year hiatus,” said Tim Locklair, Interim Superintendent of Moore County Schools. The event has been held virtually for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
STEM helps students gain essential problem-solving and critical thinking skills in all subjects. With the increasing developments in technology, “STEM prepares the student for what is coming next for them,” said Dante Poole, Principal at Aberdeen Elementary. He added, “STEM helps students gain the ability to think deeply about a problem and come up with a solution.”
STEM also homes in on the fact that it is okay to fail, using what was referred to at the Conference as the four Cs, which stands for creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication.
A seven-year STEM teacher at Aberdeen Elementary, Beth Alderson, explained how the four Cs translate into all subject areas, “You do not have to be good at math to be good at STEM. It is a coping skill and a living skill.” She added that STEM helps students with much-needed life skills.
Will Herring, Assistant Director of Technology, said the event started seven years ago with six or seven teams. He noted, “What started as a club spilled into classrooms and ultimately created the robotics event that allows students to get hands-on experience. He called it “Hard Fun,” precisely what it was.
Another first happened during the Robotics Showcase. Edward Frick presented the first Frick Technology Achievement Award, made possible with funding from Edward R. and Sally Frick in partnership with the Public Education Foundation of Moore County. Frick is a retired IBM executive who designed and installed the company’s first online banking system and its first banking computer network.
Each year, one graduating senior will receive a $1,250 award for post-secondary education. The award supports graduating seniors from Moore County Schools who plan to pursue a career in a STEM-related field. A committee consisting of high school counselors, Career Technical Education staff, and Digital Integration Facilitators selects the student. This year’s award recipient is Mayra Pulido from North Moore High School.
According to her college advisor, Mayra is very passionate about her involvement in STEM and Engineering Clubs, and she exemplifies leadership in everything that she does.
Mayra will attend Sandhills Community College to pursue an associate degree with a pre-engineering track. She completed the Sandhills Promise, a dual enrollment program, which will pay for two years of free community college tuition. She plans on completing her four-year degree at UNC Charlotte.
Story: Sana Silvera-Roy, Communications Specialist, SERVE
Photos: Curtis Burgins, Communications Specialist, SERVE