Motlow State Community College partnered with Tennessee Valley Robotics to provide elementary, middle, and high school educators from across middle Tennessee with enhanced robotics training for incorporation into various classroom subjects. The training took place on August 2 at Motlow’s Automation and Robotics Training Center in McMinnville.
This partnership was made possible by the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) Grant Motlow initially received in 2019. Funds from the Grant directly support workforce development efforts.
“Mechatronics and robotics are the core of the GIVE Grant for Motlow,” said Dr. Kaneal Alexander, Motlow’s GIVE Grant Coordinator.
“The mission of Tennessee Valley Robotics is to provide opportunities in STEM and robotics for students across the Tennessee Valley,” said Scott Rosenow, lead robotics coach and trainer for Tennessee Valley Robotics. “Motlow reached out to Tennessee Valley Robotics to collaborate on our shared mission.”
Four school districts in Motlow’s 11-county service area will use the equipment this fall. TVR provided the equipment and, with Motlow, maintains a lending library so different classrooms in the service area can checkout supplies as needed.
Educators were able to get hands-on experience building and programming the robots. They were also shown where to locate pre-developed course material they can use immediately in their classrooms.
“Mr. Rosenow had a tremendous amount of knowledge, experience, and patience. When I first spoke with him about bringing robotics into our district, he has a ‘whatever you need and whatever it takes’ mindset,” said Lea Bartch, coordinator of Science and Social Studies for Murfreesboro City Schools. “The training was well sequenced and paced. He was well prepared and supportive, which was important because we had a vast range of experience in the room. Because of the resources he shared and the instruction from the training, we will be able to get robotics teams started in our schools this year.”
“This curriculum introduces computer programming to students as early as kindergarten and can be used through high school,” said Rosenow, who is also a computer science teacher in Hamilton County.
He said he reminds everyone he instructs on leading the robotics lessons to share what they know and learn with other educators. “If I can create a successful experience, they get excited about sharing that experience with their students.”
“He also trained those who led the Motlow-hosted Summer Youth STEM Camps last month,” explained Alexander. “They were able to replicate what he did because of their own hands-on experience before those events.”
One set of robotics equipment can be used for multiple themes within the curriculum. Robot design changes based on the challenge requirement. The pre-developed STEM lessons promote collaboration, organization, critical thinking, and other soft skills students will use throughout life in addition to the STEM curriculum.
“STEM impacts us daily. It is a component of life from which you can’t separate. When you need to fix anything, cooking, repair, anything, it’s all STEM,” said Rosenow.