The Alabama School's STEM Lab teaches coding, augmented reality/virtual reality, and podcasting

The Alabama School’s STEM Lab teaches coding, augmented reality/virtual reality, and podcasting

(TNS) – Chestnut Grove Elementary fifth-grade student Henry Robbiano had trouble talking to groups of other students, but that changed when he started his own podcast in the new learning space based on school STEM last month.

Principal Rebekah Higgins said that before the design of the learning space, Robbiano’s reserved nature was a barrier.

“In the first podcast he did this week, he talks about how nervous he was when he gave his speech to student council when he ran for president,” Higgins said. “He said, ‘With (the podcast), I don’t have to worry about a crowd. I can enjoy talking with people without being in front of a big crowd.'”

The new learning space was introduced to the public on Wednesday, but Robbiano and nine other fourth- and fifth-grade students have been hard at work for nearly two months, designing augmented reality images, learning to code on their iPads, producing music and interviewing people with the new integrated studio.

Fourth-grade student Jayden Orr produces instrumental music with GarageBand software and collaborates with others in the learning space by writing music for their projects.

“With these different musical icons, I can plug them into this grid on the computer and make different sounds,” Orr explained to Decatur Schools Superintendent Michael Douglas and Elementary Program Supervisor Wanda Davis.

Orr sends his music to other classmates’ Apple devices, where Robbiano uses it for his podcast and fourth-grade Mazen Mozeb uses it for his augmented reality projects.

Mozeb uses a computer application called CoSpaces Edu to create its virtual content. He scans a device with the app called Merge Cube, a real physical cube, and it turns into a hologram.

Robbiano’s podcast on Wednesday featured Douglas and Davis and he spoke with them about Decatur schools and asked what leadership traits a person should be looking for.

“When I come here and see things like this, it encourages me to do my job well when I see the students doing well,” Douglas said on the podcast.

“That makes sense,” Robbiano replied. “You want students to do the right thing.”

Robbiano also uses GarageBand software on his laptop to record his podcasts and uses a production mixer to adjust volume levels on his microphones and headphones.

“These knobs here (on the mixer), they have sound effects,” Robbiano said. “You can even create your own custom sounds here.”

Higgins said the new room, named Launch Pad by Chestnut Grove students, offers vast opportunities for those interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) related fields.

“Before that, we had our robotics team and our green energy team and a tech class that was more for the upper classes, but that’s a whole other level,” Higgins said. “Our media specialist and I started brainstorming in the spring and I didn’t know at the time that Faith (Plunkett), our district technology coach, had partnered with Ed Farm to launch a learning space here. “

Ed Farm is a Birmingham-based non-profit organization that provides schools and communities with innovative tools and strategies to further promote STEM learning.

“This is our second Ed Farm space,” said Ed Farm CEO Waymond Jackson. “Our first space was built in March at Birmingham City Schools and it’s called the South Hampton Innovation Lab. In Chestnut Grove, it gives them a lot of opportunities. They’re learning to code, they’re learning artificial intelligence, how to build web content for media…everything the 21st century workforce in the state of Alabama needs.”

Plunkett said the Chestnut Grove learning space cost $125,000 and was funded entirely by Ed Farm “through a variety of innovation grants.” She said the renovation of the learning space began in May and was completed in September.

©2022 The Decatur Daily (Decatur, Alabama). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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