Robots motivate elementary school students

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JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. (WVLT) - One wing of Mt. Horeb Elementary School http://mhes.jc-schools.net/ is whirring with activity several minutes after school dismissal. Medium-sized and small robots roll along the hallway, while students control them with digital tablets.

"Who's driving this one? They won't move," said a student in the hallway as three robots circle at once.

Inside one nearby room, students are coding on laptops. Next door, girls are constructing a robot from Legos.

"I like coding because you can control it and make it do whatever you want," said 4th grader Delilah. Hunter, in 5th grade, said he likes making good math grades because he wants to become a video game designer. He practices coding to give a robot simple directions for movement. "I need to try to figure out what degrees I would need to fix the pattern."

Robotics Club Instructor Ashley Stiffler said the kids mostly seem to be having fun. "I don't think they realize really that they're actually doing math and science and STEM and engineering." She and teacher Teri Bittof-Ross started the weekly club last year. They used some school funds along with donations to provide materials.

The club can include up to 30 4th and 5th graders each school year. Teachers nominate a few students from each classroom to take part in the activity.