PLTW Students Showcase Their Work and Soar
Ms. Keri Fersner is a third-year teacher at Elloree Elementary Middle School in Elloree, South Carolina, and a former PLTW student. She attended Winthrop University and graduated with a degree in Middle Level Education with a math and science concentration. In her free time, she enjoys browsing Pinterest and spending time with family.
Last spring, my Automation and Robotics students were in the process of finishing up their automated robotics projects. They worked very hard and had some truly innovative solutions to the tasks given.
To give my students the opportunity to practice their public speaking skills and show off their cool work, I extended an invite to the third, fourth, and fifth grade teachers at my school to bring their students in to view these projects while my students demonstrated and explained their work. I am happy to share that the presentations were a success!
I challenged my students to put together a program not only explaining their projects, but also sharing in detail what the Automation and Robotics class was about and the tools/materials used. When the presentation day arrived, the elementary students came in with wide eyes, waiting to see where they were and why they were there. I was blown away by my students’ portrayal of the course; their ability to explain multiple topics like force, motion, and ratios; and how they were able to break down each step of the design process as it related to their projects. My students then gave a mini-tour of the room, showing where our equipment is kept and organized. The highlight of the day was, of course, the demonstrations. When my students were able to show how they programmed their devices to move autonomously, all you could hear in the room was “OOOOOHH!!! AAAAAHHHH!!! THAT’S SO COOL!!”
By the end of the presentations, many of the elementary students were asking how they could get into a class like this, and they were extremely excited! When our visitors left, I debriefed with my students to get their feedback on how the day went. They shared that they felt “grown up” standing in front of the little kids explaining things like pseudo code, gear ratios, and motors. Some also stated that they liked being able to showcase their work because it made them feel like they did something that actually mattered, and they got to influence people based on their work. They all asked when the next group could come and listen to their presentations on the class!
This is just one of the many testimonial stories I have in regards to the PLTW curriculum. The thing I am most pleased with is that students who are typically withdrawn and written off as “bad kids” in other core classes seem to excel in this course. They are proud of their work and actually having fun while applying math, science, and ELA concepts. It was most enjoyable seeing them pick up on seemingly difficult terminology and discussing it with others like professionals.
I believe that the success of this course is in the immersion aspect – the fact that students are not just learning facts, but they are also involved in hands-on interactions with each concept. I hope that students around the world are exposed to initiatives like PLTW because it truly helps to motivate and develop the whole child. You can’t get any better than that!
PLTW’s blog is intended to serve as a forum for ideas and perspectives from across our network. The opinions expressed are those of each guest author.