Editor's note: Story contributed by Cass Junior High.
Students at Cass Junior High School experienced a sporting event like no other Oct. 28.
It was different in that the participants were robots built by the students. The robots were designed to pick up a tennis ball and return them to a predetermined location for points. The balls are color coded and have
different point values. The competition was intense but filled with laughter as the students pitted their robots against each other.
The new curriculum is taught by Ken Kohnke, who is a firm believer of learning by doing.
“Making something, either as basic as a simple circuit or as complex as a robot with a specific purpose creates evidence of learning," Kohnke said of the hands-on class. “What I love is the dialogue that takes place
during the activities and shared with others.”
Some of the questions Kohnke hears are: How did you make
it? Why? Are you having this issue as well?
He adds, “Making is not just about explaining the process; it’s also
communicating what you’ve done.”
The robotics class is just one of many STEM classes taught at Cass where students develop problem solving skills. Other STEM classes at Cass include:
1. Energy and the Environment- focuses on recycling including the participation in the nationwide
contest called the Dream Machine Recycle Rally.
2. Design and Modeling- an introduction to engineering using common household items.
3. Sensor Mania- using sensors and probes for scientific measurements
4. Robotics-mentioned above (see picture below)
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) curriculum exposes students to these 4 disciplines
while promoting discovery and problem based learning. Another goal of STEM education is to encourage
students to become interested and consider careers in these fields.