Lyon County School District to add robotics to its Middle School curriculum

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Courtesy Erika Garcia Cowger

From Monday, August 12 to Friday, August 16, Lyon County School District (LCSD) educators from the middle schools have participated in a robotics curriculum training by Project Lead The Way (PLTW) in preparation for bringing a robotics grant into their classrooms. LCSD was fortunate enough to receive the Tesla robotics grant with PLTW at every middle school in the District – Dayton, Silverland (Fernley), Silver Stage, Smith and Yerington.

The grant is $15,000 per middle school. The middle school curriculum, Gateway to Technology (GTT), is being taught to the LCSD educators by PLTW Master Teachers who use this curriculum in their own classrooms and travel the country to share their knowledge with other educators. GTT is designed for middle school students – it is meant to bridge the gap between the elementary curriculum that introduces students to robotics and the high school curriculum that expands on a student’s interest in the coursework.

This PLTW curriculum has been designed with industry in mind and it even partners with some industry leaders.

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“Our aim is to provide kids an opportunity to see what their jobs would really look like if they worked in industry jobs with a demand for robotics and automation. Some examples of the projects we are training the LCSD teachers for are projects like programming an elevator that goes up and down based on the floor selected, bridges (drawbridge) and assembly lines,” said PLTW instructor, Dwayne Humphrey – Master Teacher with PLTW.
The robotics curriculum coming to LCSD is more than for those students with a desire to pursue a career in robotics work of some kind.

“We aim to teach the students for the real-world, and more than robotics, we aim to teach them the problem-solving skills necessary to solve any problem in any career they might choose,” explains Andy Northard, Master Teacher with PLTW. Some schools in LCSD have already dabbled in robotics with competitions and clubs, such as Lego Robotics. The beauty of these five grants awarded to the middle schools in LCSD is that more students will have access to the engaging curriculum.

“We live in an evolving and rapidly changing technological world. Adding robotics and automation coursework to the middle school level is just one of the many ways LCSD is working toward fulfilling its vision of graduating all students to be successful in college and career because students who take part in the classes will have the opportunity to gain skills that they can apply to their future endeavors in college or career. In addition, the fact that it requires problem solving, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration are just some of the prominent pieces of its positive impact on our students. It will expose the students to real world problem solving through engaging, hands-on activities. We are excited to see the roll-out of these grants in our classroom this year,” said Jim Gianotti, Director of Secondary Curriculum and Instruction for LCSD.

LCSD began classes on Wednesday, Aug. 21 and welcomed teachers back to campus on Friday, Aug. 16.

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