After-School Robotics Club Celebrates Anti-Bullying

Student working on computer program. In January, ITTIP was awarded a grant from the Verizon Foundation, Hummingbird Robotics for Middle School Students. The funding supports a spring and fall workshop for students using an after-school model to integrate Hummingbird Robotics kits through inquiry-based learning methods in STEM. The learning model allows a lead teacher to learn alongside the students with the support of an ITTIP staff member.

This spring, the first workshop took place at Cumberland Middle School (CMS) with the support of many members from the division.  Judy Chambliss, currently an 8th science teacher, took the role as the lead teacher. After recruitment of 6th-8th graders, an interest survey went out to students to help determine the implementation design. Students chose to focus on an anti-bullying campaign as they felt it was an issue they could relate to in everyday life.

A website was created to help the participating students conduct research to decide how they were going to complete this challenge.  In addition, students participated in asking CMSs guidance counselor, Ellen Maclin, questions about programs or anti-bullying policies for their school.  The lesson was framed through a problem-based learning experience:

The problem: Schools everywhere are seeing increases in bullying, both in-school and cyber bullying, which carries over into the school. 

CMS is in need of programs that will address bullying, raise student self-esteem, and/or encourage kindness. They believe that this will improve school climate and truly make it a school that practices “The Duke Way”, to respect ourselves, our school, and each other. 

Your task: Bullying is a problem in your school. Design a robotic “scene” that models a physical, verbal, social, or cyber bullying situation and the appropriate resolution or actions that should take place.  These efforts will help inform your school and community about bullying, and how to stop it.

In order to do this, you will explore the following issues: What are the different types of bullying? What anti-bullying or self-esteem programs are currently in place in our school? How are bullying issues handled in our school? What are some proven methods or actions that address the bullying situation that you chose as the focus of your project. Three young girls standing behind their robotic presentation.

Once you have reviewed these questions and any other questions generated as part of whole group or small group discussion, decide which form of bullying you will focus upon and what actions or strategies you feel will improve the situation. Plan a scene that models that form of bullying, incorporates the goals you have set for your project, and meets any additional criteria set for the project. 

The students worked as teams for 8 weeks on the project. A culminating showcase was held on Monday, May 8, 2017, where the students presented their robotic models to help educate about bullying situations and what to do in various bullying situations. After presenting to family, friends, and Cumberland County Public School teachers and administrators, the students were recognized at the school board meeting for their hard work in learning about robotics and STEM, but also their efforts in informing their peers about bullying.