NASA Conducted Classes in Robotics for Pocahontas County Teachers at Hillsboro Elemenatary School

Look out! Creepy Crawlers will soon be roaming the classrooms of Hillsboro Elementary School. In an earlier story, a Pocahontas County Teacher, Erica Marks, spoke with Allegheny Mountain Radio about a new teaching tool – Lego Robotics. At that time NASA was planning on coming to Hillsboro Elementary School to teach County School teachers about the program.

That training has now happened, and Principal Joseph Arbogast of Hillsboro Elementary explains how it all came about.

“It’s an amazing program” said Mr. Arbogast. “Last Fall I was fortunate enough to go on an OEPA Audit and while at one of the schools, West Milford Elementary in Harrison County, I got to witness this robotics in action first hand. There were fourth graders controlling robots with I PADS.”

Mr. Arbogast was clearly impressed with what he saw.

“And it was absolutely one of the most amazing hands on, scientific, differentiated instruction” said Mr. Arbogast. “Everything that a Teacher tries for, everything that a Principal tries to incorporate into a classroom or into their school was happening was happening in this one lab. And this teacher that was doing it was fresh out of college- she just came out of WVU and I interviewed her just to learn how she did this. She’s the one who got me to look towards NASA and NASA provided this training for free basically.”

When he returned to Pocahontas County, Mr. Arbogast brought the program to the attention of School Superintendent Donald Bechtel and the training was arranged with NASA. Teacher Erica Marks then runs with the program, arranging for NASA to come to Hillsboro Elementary School to train teachers in the program.

“Representatives from NASA came to Hillsboro Elementary “said Mr. Arbogast. “And there were teachers from other schools in the County. That training was free. It was six and a half hours (long) though, but they came out of there more or less knowing the coding and the programing to control the robots. Now hopefully by next year we will be able to get some of the packets in from some of the kits from NASA and actually be able to actually set those labs up right here at Hillsboro. And we’ll get our students first-hand experience at actually controlling, building and programming robotics.”

The Robotics program’s educational benefits are not just limited to the building, programing and controlling of robots either.

“A student designs a robot, they work with that robot and then they go to their Reading Language Arts class and now they are writing an essay about it” said Mr. Arbogast. “When it’s something that can be incorporated school-wide in every subject, in every type of teaching method and strategy that’s out there, this one program can wrap it up. It’s state of the art stuff. The teachers that had the opportunity to attend this were basically every teacher in my building. Some of the younger ones didn’t do it – the preschool teacher and the kindergarten – it’s a little bit advanced for them but you can bring those younger students in and say here’s what your gone do when you’re in the First Grade. It gives them that hype to look (forward) to something.”

So, parents don’t be surprised if next year your kids become robot experts.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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