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20121215 MCISD Alton JRhigh Migrant Robotics program AF  0029 featureMISSION— Migrant students are spending their Saturday mornings in school – learning about robotics, math and engineering.

Students from the migrant programs at Alton Memorial Junior High, Rafael Cantu Junior High, and Kenneth White Jr. High School – all part of Mission CISD – participated in a battle of robotic catapults in the Alton Memorial campus cafeteria on a recent Saturday morning. Miniature catapults were used to attack competitors’ towers, all for the understanding of mathematics and engineering – part of a program inspired by college readiness goals.

Instructors from all three campuses were trained by education service center Region One to assist the students in building the robots and incorporating multiple learning objectives of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Grades six, seven and eight participated in the program that started on Sept. 18.

Alton Memorial mathematics teacher Robert Granados explained the activity was not only hands-on, but a great way to encourage peer teaching.

“Building these robots includes history, science and mathematics,” Granados said. “We are trying to get the students ready for college…when they graduate they will know if they have any interest in dealing with any of these subjects.”

The students have worked each Saturday over the last three months on the projects, discovering the relation between math and their battles. Granados explained the robotic catapults are placed on the floor, which has been made to look like a large x-y graph. Students must recite the x-y coordinates of each tower prior to attacking.

To launch the catapults, the students are told to clap or yell “fire” since the robots are voice activated. Granados added, the children were shown videos to help them understand the history of catapults.

Migrant teacher and supervisor of the project, Janie Rios, explained how the program worked.

“We have four instructors from Alton Memorial Jr. High, two from Cantu Jr. High and two instructors from K. White Jr. High,” Rios said. “The teachers received training from Region One and they get together to create each lesson – what the students will be doing each day.”

This is the first year the program is offered to the migrant students in Mission CISD. Rios said 10 children from each campus would advance to a robotics competition at Region One on Feb. 9.

Granados said they are also using CSCOPE, the district’s curriculum support system, to show the students how mathematics, engineering and history apply to their everyday lives.

“We are applying kinesthetic learning,” Granados said. “Some students don’t know what they like, then they get to college and don’t know what to do….We are trying to avoid that wasted time.”

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