July 23, 2024
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Yavneh Academy Is Chosen for the Finch Robot Loan Program

One of the goals of the Department of Technology and Innovation at Yavneh Academy, led by Chani Lichtiger, Claire Hirschhorn and Tova Burack, is to prepare students for a future in which STEM will play a major role. An integral part of STEM is robotics.

The Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University, recently featured on 60 Minutes, is a world leader in robotic technology. They have created a small robot, known as the Finch (because of its resemblance to a bird), which is designed to teach programming to students. BirdBrain Technologies, the production company of the Robotics Institute, has a loan program that enables schools to provide their students with the opportunity to experience robotic programming. The goal of the program is “to catalyze computational thinking and coding learning experiences for students.” This year, Yavneh Academy was one of the fortunate schools accepted into the Finch Robot Loan Program. Ten Finches were on loan to Yavneh for two months.

The Finches were a huge and immediate hit with Yavneh’s students. The Finches respond to two coding languages designed for students; Snap and Scratch. For middle school students who are experienced coders using Scratch, they programmed the Finches using that language. They were also introduced to the coding language Snap. They then paired with younger students and assisted them in programming the Finches using Snap. Their goal was to follow a maze on the floor (made out of colored paper). If successful, they then programed the colored lights on the Finches to match the colors on the maze. This was a very challenging activity. Finally, they used an alphabet floor mat and had the Finches travel to the letters of the students’ names.

The two months with the Finches “flew” by, and the Finches will soon travel to the next lucky school to be accepted into the program.

The robotics experience at Yavneh Academy was a great success and the students have requested more robotics opportunities. A group of middle school students, who show great interest in STEM, are an integral part of the decision making process as the robotics curriculum expands to meet the needs of today’s learner.

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