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Robotics: Drawing inspiration from the Perseverance rover to stimulate creativity and engagement

Mars is installed in a classroom. Students bustle around their reproduction of the now famous Perseverance robot. They have to find the right combination of wheels to be able to complete the mission. This is the kind of activity that Sébastien Bergeron brings to elementary students from the Center de services scolaire des Bois-Francs (CSSBF).

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A kinetic sand platform reproducing the surface of the planet Mars is installed in a classroom. Students bustle around their reproduction of the now famous Perseverance robot. They have to find the right combination of wheels to be able to complete the mission. This is the kind of activity that Sébastien Bergeron brings to elementary students from the Center de services scolaire des Bois-Francs (CSSBF).

Sébastien Bergeron is an educational advisor in digital integration at the CSSBF. Robotics is a real passion for him and he wants to pass it on to teachers and students in his region. “Robotics makes it possible to create completely different class dynamics. Students learn while having fun. Teachers can accumulate lots of learning traces,” he says.

By fall 2019, all primary schools in his CSS had received robotics equipment. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the deployment and forced the suspension of several activities. Since the fall of 2021, Sébastien feels that activities are starting up again. “Teachers see the potential. They need support to get started and I'm here to help them. When he goes to class, they also have the opportunity to experience the activities as a learner in the same way as their students. This allows them to familiarize themselves with the material.

Work plans to promote student autonomy and classroom management

When he prepares the activities he offers to the classes, Sébastien always constructs them in the form of a work plan that the students can then follow at their own pace. Bonus activities are also planned for those who advance more quickly. This facilitates class management and also makes it possible to make links with the program, to name the skills to be achieved as well as what will be evaluated (including the evaluation criteria).

He does not hesitate to share the work plans he creates and which he grouped together in a Padlet. Some have even been translated into English to meet the needs of teachers of 6e year that have Intensive English groups. Those who are members of the ICT in Education Facebook group are likely familiar with its posts. 

Perseverance: a mission that stimulates student creativity and engagement

To create the space mission to Mars, he was inspired by the construction plan for the Perseverance robot published on the site Robots Got Talents. He then created a first work plan which leads the students to take an interest in the mission, to name the parts, to build the robot and to make it do some maneuvers by programming it. In a second work plan, students must find the right combination of wheels that will make it easier for the rover to move around Mars.

Suddenly, he notices that the students are absorbed in the task. He also notes an interesting phenomenon: “Some students are confused by the fact that they can get into creative mode. They can experiment, make mistakes and start over. They're not used to it." On the other hand, this type of activity allows students to come out of their shell. “Some will suddenly spring into action. They can touch, manipulate material. They rush to help their comrades. »

The Perseverance rover in action

Sébastien Bergeron dreams of the day when students will experience at least one programming or robotics activity per cycle. In the meantime, he multiplies the proposals with teachers and he accompanies all those who contact him. Everyone has the potential to become a multiplying agent in their environment.

To consult all of Sébastien's robotics resources, it's here: https://padlet.com/srimcssbf/robotique

While you're at it, check out our free SCOOP! activity guide: Farah Alibay conquering Mars.

Finally watch for the next issue of the École branchée magazine, to be published in April. It will focus precisely on programming and robotics at school.

Dimension (s) of digital competence related to this article
2- Develop and mobilize your technological skills
5- Collaborate using digital technology

To see the Framework.

About the Author

Martine Rioux
Martine Rioux
After studying public communication, Martine worked as a journalist for various publications, before pursuing her career as an interactive communications consultant at La Capitale, a financial group, then at Québec Numérique, an organization she took over as general manager before making the jump. as political advisor in the office of the Minister for Digital Government Transformation. Today she is the online Editor-in-Chief and Special Projects Manager at l'École branchée. Her dream: that everyone has access to technology and can use it as a tool for learning and opening up to the world.

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