Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"Robots by the C" is 21st Century Learning

First things first – Congratulations to MERSD’s "Robots by the C" for taking second place in this year’s Boston Regional FIRST competition!  The combination of commitment, dedication and expertise exhibited by our student team together with the unwavering time and support offered by our parent volunteers who served as advisors to the team made for a remarkable effort.   I had the opportunity to visit the competition last Friday.  I was treated to a VIP tour, and I was able to sit court-side to cheer the team on in its victorious morning match.  The atmosphere was electric; one couldn’t help but get swept up in the excitement of the competition.  On my ride back to school, however, I realized that in all the fun there was great concrete example of a learning experience that illustrates the much used phrase – 21st Century Skills. 

MERSD’s vision is for all students to develop and demonstrate Twenty-First Century Skills.  The overarching elements of the skills framework are grouped into four areas which embody the skills, knowledge and expertise students should master to succeed in work and life in the 21st century.

Content Knowledge

Learning and Innovation Skills
Creativity and Innovation
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Communication and Collaboration

Information, Media and Technology Skills
Information Literacy
Media Literacy
ICT Literacy

Life and Career Skills

The "FIRST Robotics" program and competition require students to demonstrate skills in each of these areas.  Through their content knowledge of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) students need to creatively design a robot that will perform the required challenge in the most efficient manner possible.  This is done through a collaborative team effort in both the design and competition (implementation phase).  Competitions are called – co-operations because the point allotment is designed to favor teams that demonstrate cooperation with their competitors to yield the best results possible.  In addition to designing a working robot, teams are also responsible for designing a brand and marketing their team in order to raise funds through donations and sponsorships. Surely, this experience is one that prepares them well for 21st Century workplaces that will depend on the innovation and strong interpersonal skills of its workforce.