While students are enjoying their summer break, teachers from various schools around the island are undergoing training.
Guam – “We built underwater robots. We learned how to put together electrical wires, put motors together, we had to do a lot of teamwork,” says Simon Sanchez High School Teacher Melanie Blas.
Teachers from six Guam Department of Education high schools and St. John’s were tasked with designing and building an underwater robot to perform a certain task. Today’s task: Using your underwater robot to pick up more coral dummies than your competitor.
GDOE College Pathway Program Project Director Leah Beth Naholowaa says, “Each teacher take turns in driving their robots and they’re competing for the number of corals they can pick.”
The underwater robots, made primarily from PVC pipe and readily available materials, use small motors to navigate while being controlled above water through a tether. It sounds simple but it actually takes a lot of critical thinking, planning, building and coordination.
Naholowaa explains, “Our goal is for us to add more excitement as they incorporate this into their lesson plans because sometimes kids want something they can touch and feel and this makes teaching exciting for the kids so we’re adding all this. As you can see, the excitement is building so I’m hoping that they are excited the children are going to be excited too when they go back to the classroom.”
After teachers undergo this training, they can then apply what they learned in the classroom. The Underwater Marine Robotics training with McREL International is intended to prepare students to be STEM ready and able to pursue STEM and Engineering careers.
SSHS Teacher Alicia Whitaker says, “Within the first hour, our robots were in the water, already having them move around. We intend to do that with our kids, get them engaged that quickly, get the excitement started right away. So they can run with that enthusiasm.”
Blas expains, “This is the kind of Professional Development Day we need to inspire our teachers so we can therefore inspire our students and get them interested in learning. We’re also going to start a STEM club at our school.”
The STEM teachers from Simon Sanchez High School even plan to start up a STEM club at their school soon.
Naholowaa says they have more STEM trainings planned. In the fall, there will be a LEGO training for elementary and middle schools and aquaphonics for middle schools.