I am a Technology Integration Specialist. I have no experience with robotics, but I am determined to introduce a LEGO robotics program here at my school.

I’m figuring it out as I go. I’m asking tons of questions, reading research, speaking with other educators, connecting with industry and university partners and doing everything I can to ensure the choices I make are in the best interest of our students. It’s a little overwhelming at times. I have big dreams for us and I’m not sure how to get us where I know we can go.

As I search through the multitude of STEM resources trying to determine the best plan for our transition towards a more challenging and dynamic STEM program, I am constantly on the lookout for a detailed set of instructions or a map or a resource that clearly shows or tells the story of how an urban school with limited resources and limited experience in STEM curriculum managed to go from no program at all to an award winning program. I haven’t found one yet.

That’s the purpose of this blog. I want to create an archive of our efforts. A timeline, map and story that tracks our progress from our start at “no program” to the “award winning program” we will surely have in the future. I’m positive like that. 😉

As of today, Dec. 7, 2010 here’s what is true about my school and about myself:

  1. We have no robotics programs and have not had one that I know of.
  2. We do not have a strong STEM program, though we have some excellent math, science and technology teachers.
  3. My position is new. Our staff does not currently have a strong understanding of why I am needed or how I can help.
  4. Many teachers and residential staff have little experience integrating technology into curriculum and do not lean towards inquiry-based or project- based learning. This presents a challenge, but I’m up for it.
  5. We have a limited budget (but not limited resources-there is plenty of  technology available for use). In fact, I was laid off from my position as Elementary Technology Teacher/Integrator in April. I had no tenure, I still don’t. There is no way to know if I will still be here to see this program past this year. (I was fortunate in that my administration was able to offer me this new position for 2010-2011. I don’t take it for granted.)
  6. Our student body is composed of students that come primarily from low-income, single-parent urban households. All students live on campus Monday-Friday and attend on full scholarships.

About Me:

I have been around technology my whole life. Dad worked for Boroughs and Wang back in the day (there goes any attempt at concealing age). I am not an engineer or expert programmer, but I can navigate software fairly easily and I like tools and putting things together.  (My fiance and I are building our home in a warehouse).  I’m basically a tech savvy teacher and I’m persistent when it comes to problem solving. I have taught only in urban schools that serve a primarily low-income demographic. I believe students can achieve far more than they are regularly asked to achieve. I feel the same way about teachers and administrators.

I’m not positive that I can implement and run a robotics program, but experience tells me that if I stay positive, persistent, confident and humble, and if I put my vulnerabilities on the table and regularly ask for help, I can.

I guess we’ll just see how it goes.  I will share what I know and what I learn.

“ABOUT” Update: MAY 25, 2011

Just a few months ago, when I started this blog back in December, I outlined where we were as a school in terms of our STEM program. Here are just a few of the statements I made at the time:

“As of today, Dec. 7, 2010 here’s what is true about my school and about myself:

    1. We have no robotics programs and have not had one that I know of.
    2. We do not have a strong STEM program, though we have some excellent math, science and technology teachers.
    3. My position is new. Our staff does not currently have a strong understanding of why I am needed or how I can help.

Well, I am excited to report that just a few short months later, as of May 25, 2011:

  1. We have first and second grade students who are programming WeDo LEGO robots on laptops. They have been exposed to the idea that engineers are people just like them who use their imagination to design solutions for problems in the world.
  2. We had 14 students in the fifth and sixth grade participate in an evening enrichment program supported by both a “Scienteer” and a college mentor. They built SeaPerch submersible ROVs and competed in a culminating “Cap the Oil Well” activity at Drexel University. The won the “Against All Odds” award and took third place in the pool events.
  3. We have an after-school robotics and engineering club for students in grades 7-9. Students work with LEGO NXT kits and explore a variety of engineering fields and careers by completing design challenges.
  4. Collaboration is happening and gaining momentum. Teachers in grades 3 and 5 grade accepted my invitation to plan special lessons for “National Engineers Week”. We became materials engineers and designed protective packaging for an egg drop. We became civil and materials engineers and built and tested bridges. We explored biomimicry and identified biological features of an alligator that we could simulate with a model.
  5. We have had numerous guests visit the classroom and share their time and expertise with me and our students. In upcoming weeks we will be welcoming even more!
  6. Our Science department chair has partnered with students from Engineers without Borders and is about to kick off an after-school environmental program this spring.  He has also worked to help restructure the science and math curriculum, and we will begin piloting a Physics First model in our school next year.
So we are moving forward. Slowly but surely.

11 Responses to “About”

  1. John Heffernan May 26, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    Found your blog. Will check it out. Nice to meet you a the the conference. Here’s mine…


    • missgreer May 26, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

      You too John. I was so glad to connect with you and others who are teaching robotics and engineering at the elementary level! I think you pasted my URL instead of yours: http://jheffernan.com/wordpress/ 😉

  2. John Heffernan May 27, 2011 at 5:54 pm #

    Thanks for pointing that out and fixing it…

  3. Roger Allon July 15, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

    Hi Stephanie
    Dont know if it is of any help or not but i have just completed a paper on STEM robotics in schools, covering several ways it was used in schools. I have posted it in a public folder in my dropbox, have a read and see if it can be of any use to you!

    Click to access EDPC6730%20final%20paper%20STEM%20Robotics.pdf

    • missgreer July 15, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

      Thanks Roger. I’m always looking for resources to help move our program along. I’ll definitely check it out.

  4. Roger Allon July 15, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    If the above link is not working try this one.

    Click to access EDPC6730%20final%20paper%20STEM%20Robotics.pdf

  5. Stefan August 28, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

    Hi Stephanie,

    I am doing robotic workshops at different schools from kindergarten to 5th grade. Constantly looking for new ideas, I started to put some of mine on-line too.


    • missgreer August 28, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

      Thanks for the link Stefan. I love the cable car. Fantastic!

  6. Wm. Michael Campbell November 15, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    I enjoyed reading your blog. We are doing a start up program at my school (Murray Hill Middle) and I am one of the teachers piloting the program. i came across the eGFI site by accident and found it to be a terrific site. Good luck with your program

    • missgreer November 15, 2011 at 6:00 pm #

      Thanks for reaching out and introducing yourself! Good luck with your program as well and be sure to share how it’s going from time to time. I’d love to hear what you are trying in your school, and I’m sure others would as well.


  1. eGFI – For Teachers » A Teacher’s Top eGFI Tips - August 30, 2011

    […] Go For It” team. Since then, “eGFI has been my go-to site” for ideas, says Greer, whose blog includes several posts on how she has used such eGFI resources as flash cards and “If I Were […]

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