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posted: Mon, Dec 19th, 2016
Julia Barbieri, Tyler Clemente, and Sophia Ecarma use Cubelets

Cubelets teach kids the basics of robotics

What is a robot? That's a question that Melissa Marvin, MV's library/media specialist, asked students before introducing Cubelets. One of the reasons was because the modular robotic cubes don't look like C-3PO, Transformers, the Terminator, or Wall-E. Cubelets are... well, just cubes. Or are they?

Cubelets are snap-together robotic blocks that do things that are remarkably similar to their fictional cousins. They can't store the plans to the Death Star or take over the world, but they can move, perform actions, sense, and calculate. Not bad for one and three-quarter inch pieces of plastic.

Mrs. Marvin used the Cubelets with students of all grades. The kids built robots that rolled when they sensed heat sources such as a student's breath, robots that went toward or away from objects that they sensed, and robots that spun and reacted to light. Because they're magnetic and snap together, the Cubelets take robotics down to its simplest form by eliminating the wiring, programming, and mechanics of robot construction. Yet students benefit from the critical thinking skills and creativity that working with robots can engender. 

For the older grades before beginning more complex projects, Mrs. Marvin introduced the Cubelets by piling them up and telling the students to figure out how they worked. Talk about a great STEM challenge!

"It was neat seeing how imaginative the students were," said Mrs. Marvin, who incorporates technology into many of her regular lessons. "Just watching their faces as they worked out how the Cubelets functioned and what they could do with them was great. Their faces lit up when they made the connections."

There are more than a dozen different kinds of Cubelets which can be combined to make surprising sophisticated robots. The four elementary libraries share the Cubelets and sets of Spheros, programmable polycarbonate balls. The Spheros will be coming to Mountain View after the holiday break.


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Mountain View School
118 Cloverhill Drive Flanders, NJ 07836
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