Robotics course brings technology to life

MacLachlan College adds a fourth 'r'

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MacLachlan College is taking the "three Rs" and adding a fourth: robotics.

The Oakville, Ontario-based private school brings learning to life through its Robotic Science and Intelligent Systems Project, which is part of the science curriculum for students in kindergarten to Grade 8, and a full-year course in Grade 11.

Paul Keery, MacLachlan College's futurist and head of social science, introduced the program in 1997. Since then students have been doing everything from mastering the fundamentals of a basic pulley, to building their own computer-controlled robots.

"We wanted to keep the school on a technological edge," says Keery, adding that teachers and students love it. "The only complaint we have from the kids is they can't do it longer."

Adrian Apel, a Grade 8 student, says the program is fun and has opened his eyes to the world of technology. "I like it because it's hands-on," he says. "You get to work with things you might not otherwise have access to."

"We've found that they learn a lot more and they retain the learning," adds Keery. "It makes technology so much more accessible to students."

While technology changes quickly, the program gives MacLachlan College's students a solid foundation. "Building a robot is a challenge," explains Keery. It instills in students not only mathematical and science skills, but also problem-solving abilities that will benefit them far beyond the classroom, he says. "That's the purpose of robotics."

—Michelle Warren
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