Students from Schaumburg High School recently teamed up with sixth-graders from Hoover Math and Science Academy to create robots out of Legos.
But it wasn't playtime for the 71 sixth-graders and 27 high schoolers. They collaborated to take part in the "Green City Robotics Challenge," which was made possible thanks to a $10,000 Lego Robotics Grant the elementary school received.
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Students at the Schaumburg academy were paired with at least one high school student during the construction of the robots, while six Motorola engineers oversaw the project.
Hoover Principal Jake Chung gave out 23 Lego Mindstorms Robotics Kits to the high school students to take home and explore over spring break, giving them the chance to familiarize themselves with the kits to better assist the younger kids.
"It's been a real unique opportunity for our sixth-grade students to learn from the students at Schaumburg High School and develop a peer model mentoring piece, and then also for Schaumburg students to learn from Motorola," Chung said.
The high school first got involved with the project when Chung contacted Bill Lederhouse, Schaumburg High School science department chair, to express an interest in collaborating.
In turn, Lederhouse recommended Adam Koschnitzke and Jeff O'Brien, who teach Intro to Computer Programming, because the curriculum and skill set were best aligned with the needs of Hoover.
Students worked toward leading Hoover teams through the "Green City Robotics Challenge," which required robots to compete in a maze-like challenge. Teams would earn points based on various challenges their robots could complete, including the robot's ability to follow a line, push an object, decipher between colors, and pick up and move objects.
For their part, Schaumburg High School students learned more about engineering and what it's like to be in a teaching role.
"They have taken on a teaching role and they have had to learn patience," Koschnitzke said. "At the same time, some of the kids who were interested in engineering, and are definitely looking into it, have started to look at education as a possibility when they realize that they like working with kids."
Learning how to be in a mentoring role is sometimes difficult, and O'Brien said students stepped up to the challenge.
"It's interesting because their first instinct is to do it themselves, and we have to tell our students that the elementary students are the ones who are supposed to be doing the work, and they are just there to help," O'Brien said. "For our students, it's really nice for them to do hands-on stuff."
Schaumburg High School students involved enjoyed their leadership role.
"The kids lead us and we get to stand back and watch and see what they know, then try and help them, and I think it's awesome," said senior Andrew Selep.
"It shows how we can bring different age groups together to do something that is not only important to us, but to the kids as well," added junior Justin Pacocha.