Anderson Children's Foundation

Desert Learning Academy

Desert Learning Academy

Programming Robots to Excite Student Learning (2017-2018)

Desert Learning Academy is a grade 2-12 virtual school completing its second year in the Palm Springs Unified School District. Our students have engaged in digital storytelling, engineering projects such as designing parachutes and wind turbine blades, and have completed Code.org. They are ready to take their skills to another level by doing something they've asked to do for years: Programming Robots! This grant will allow us to create our first robotics lab. 

At Desert Learning Academy, we are focused on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) Education because it encourages reasoning and thinking skills that students need in a world where everything will be enhanced by the use of robotics. Google’s Senior Vice-President, Susan Wojcicki explains, “Learning to code makes kids feel empowered, creative, and confident. If we want our young students to retain these traits into adulthood, a great option is to expose them to computer engineering in their youth.” Robotics offers classroom activities that teach high-value STEAM content and provides opportunities to powerfully address ELA and Math Common Core Standards. In fact, there are connections to robotics across the full spectrum of the curriculum. Robotics is also a highly effective way to foster essential work skills like collaboration, problem solving and project management. It does all this while keeping kids so motivated and engaged that getting them to stop working and move on to the rest of the school day can be a challenge; a good problem to have! 

The next important step for student robotics will be to make it a central part of the regular, daytime classroom experience. Robotics can work magic even for early elementary students. Students build robots to help them understand the characters and plots of books they read. Story analysis and comprehension are greatly enabled and enhanced. This same approach of using robotics to focus and enable descriptive, explanatory language can work in higher grades, too. The Common Core ELA standards indicate that students should be able to effectively present knowledge and ideas verbally. This is my dream for our students at Desert Learning Academy.

Contact Person: Lynn Yada

Contact Email: lyada@psusd.us