As District Staff Developer for Elementary Science at Pinellas County Schools, James Hite has a big job. 78 schools alone rely on his expertise, especially when adding a new tool like Cubelets to their programs.
Mr. Hite trialed the little robots in ten classrooms and quickly discovered how engaging and versatile they are. Today, Cubelets are found in every Elementary Science lab in the district with over 14,000 students playing and learning with robot blocks.
“Cubelets play a huge role in our science programs,” Mr. Hite explains. “All 2nd- and 4th-grade students are using Cubelets to solve complex problems and conduct various investigations.”
Of course, these investigations with Cubelets aren’t always so structured.
“In one of our science labs, students built a robot that would be used to transport their class gecko around. Sure enough, the robot was constructed, and the gecko rode around the classroom in style in his custom robotic transport.”
Mr. Hite has found that students and teachers absolutely love interacting with Cubelets. He adds that, “we have had teachers, schools, and parents buy additional Cubelets for their students to increase opportunities for creating more complex robot systems.”
He goes on to say that, “I have noticed with both our intermediate students and primary students that the level of engagement when working with Cubelets has been 100%. Students are always working in collaborative small groups. The introduction of Cubelets to support our science standards has increased small group collaboration and problem solving. Because of Cubelets, ideas are shared collectively and all ideas are considered in order to help solve a particular problem.”
The most important tip Mr. Hite has for educators is to take some time to explore with Cubelets before releasing them to students.
“Take them home and play, play, play,” he says. “Know how each of the different Cubelets work and how they interact with other Cubelets.”
Mr. Hite found that the most helpful support from the Modular Robotics team came in three different ways: the video conferences the support team offered, the tech support team that is on-hand to fix any needs that may arise, and the district visit by Cubelets Educational Designer Emily Eissenberg to provide professional development to Pinellas teachers. Ms. Eissenberg spent a school day with the district, visiting a variety of Cubelets classrooms and coaching teachers about best practices in their implementation. One classroom even had a news crew present that showed off Cubelets to the local community!
The day-long training wrapped up with an evening training for the “Phase Two adopters” – schools that were next in line to implement Cubelets after the pilot schools. Modular Robotics staff took these teachers through a variety of Cubelets building challenges, introduced them to the Cubelets App, and specifically addressed some of their goals for cross-curricular lesson planning.
He hopes that other educators understand how versatile Cubelets can be: “The instructional possibilities are endless. I am constantly thinking about how I can expand the use of Cubelets in other areas of science.”