Stanton Academy has its roots in a community project we started in 2015. At that time, we invited some children to pilot a challenge called FIRST LEGO League Junior (FLL Jr). We already had some children who were interested in this project and, because we support interest-led learning, we responded by helping them to build a team.
Through FLL Jr, the children learned about simple machines, how to motorize a simple machine, how to conduct research and creatively translate that research into a 3D LEGO model, how to work together respectfully, and how to share their work proudly in their community.
That team ended up being the only Canadian team to participate in the FIRST Robotics World Festival with their project that year. Their work earned them the Simply Awesome Machines award!
Each team made a flag for the opening ceremonies.
The team was surprised by a visit from professional LEGO masterbuilders, who reviewed their research project and LEGO model, It was an amazing and unique opportunity for these boys, ages 7-9.
Since 2015, Beth Mai has coached 13 FIRST LEGO League Jr teams and is coaching 5 more through this year's challenge: Mission Moon. In the past 4 years, 3 teams have been invited to the World Festival to showcase their work and 2 more have taken their work to the Ontario Provincial Expo for FIRST LEGO League Jr. Most of these teams are run at Stanton Academy's daytime programs, where Beth contributes her time as a volunteer.
The Masterbuilders took their FLL Jr project to the FIRST Robotics World Festival in April 2018 and were invited to show their work at the Prime Minister's Science Fair in the fall of 2018. Here they are, explaining their research on water scarcity and showing their model, complete with 5 motorized and programmed elements (including a flushing toilet and a working elevator).
This year, we are taking our first steps into coaching a FIRST LEGO League team (children ages 9-13). We are piloting the project through a non-competitive season of this year's challenge, "Into Orbit", with the goal of participating in the 2019-2020 challenge season as a competing team.
In our full-day programs, we introduce children to Lego robotics and programming to support our FLL Jr teams. At other times in the year, we offer short courses in robotics using Lego WeDo 2.0 and Lego EV3 Mindstorms. These programs may run during the day, after school, on a Saturday, or as a full-week camp. Check out our current classes to see what's available.
STEM and STEAM were new and exciting terms a decade ago. Now, we believe that science education - and the interconnected relationship between math, the arts, technology, and engineering - should be expected and not seen as a bonus. For this reason, we don't tout STEM at Stanton. It's just part of what we do.
How we include STEM/STEAM education in our programs:
classes that allow children to explore tools such as Ozobots, littlebits, MakeyMakey,
robotics classes that guide children to design, build, and program their own robots
project-based learning challenges where STEAM skills - among others - are developed as children work to solve real-world problems
projects that integrate multiple STEAM skills
You can find STEM/STEAM-related opportunities in our robotics club, project-based learning classes (ex: Mystery Illness, Junior Forensic Science, and Spy School). Of course, FIRST LEGO League Jr & FIRST LEGO League are excellent examples of real-world applications of STEAM skills, among others.
Stanton offers many classes that incorporate STEAM education, but we are not a STEAM school. This is just part of what running a great program for children looks like in 2019.