News and Tribune

November 26, 2013

‘Robots’ tackle real problems at Mt. Tabor

Students participate in Robot Museum project


NEW ALBANY — Larry won’t just do homework, but he’ll make sure he does it correctly.

The homework-finishing and auto-grading “robot,” created by third-grader Isabelle Vittitow, was one of the machines created by Mt. Tabor students for their annual Robot Museum.

Vittitow said the reason she chose to build a homework robot was simple.

“Because I have trouble doing my homework at home,” Vittitow said Tuesday.

Third-graders built the robots from materials they found at home. Teshea Barbee, one of the third-grade teachers, said while the annual project is a fun break before Thanksgiving, it also helps students learn some valuable skills.

“We try to incorporate three standards in this project, it’s identifying a problem, solving it and presenting it,” Barbee said. “We encourage the families to get involved; that’s how it should be. They don’t get to do a lot of fun, hands-on projects.”

Students are instructed to not buy anything to put on their robots, and Barbee said she starts saving cardboard boxes, aluminum tins and other materials so students might use them when the project rolls around.

Finding a way to solve a problem is the core of the project. She said all students have troublesome topics, and the robots are meant to solve those.

While regular ideas pop up every year — homework robots, room-cleaning robots and others — sometimes students’ creations reflect something bigger, Barbee said.

Nevaeh Adkins, another third-grader, brought in her robot, Captain George Freedom. He’s designed to serve as a medic in the field and can run up to 70 mph. Adkins said her robot was a decorated hero, earning a Purple Heart and the Medal of Honor. Her inspiration came from the school’s Veterans Day program, she said.

As the students present their robots to each other in class, they also have to prepare for another big challenge — sharing with others in the school.

Younger students toured through the third-grade classes to look at all of the creations. As they stopped to look, the third-graders had to give a presentation and sometimes demonstrations of how their robots worked.

Barbee said while students have a lot they have to learn with state standards, she’s glad they can incorporate some of those skills into the robots while giving children a chance to exercise their creativity.

“This day is one of our favorite days of the year,” Barbee said. “I guess I’m not surprised by their creativity, but I’m always impressed. It’s their individual personalities that are allowed to show in working on their own robots.”