St. Michael's expands robotics program with help from Martin's grant

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PLYMOUTH, Ind. (WNDU) - At St. Michael's School in Plymouth, there are some 5th graders who are daring to dream of a future in engineering, and they just got a boost from Martin's Super Markets' One School at a Time grant.

The wheels are turning in Mrs. Kolter's 5th grade classroom.

“It’s a great combination of learning and work. I mean they're really working,” said teacher Mary Beth Kolter. “They're learning and they're loving learning.”

A chance encounter with robots turned into a full blown obsession.

It all started with a visit to STARBASE, a program held in cities across the country, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense. The kids travelled to a STARBASE program in South Bend, where they were introduced to Lego robotics.

“It’s awesome,” exclaimed Johnny Jimenez. “I just love doing the math and programming, telling it what to do, where to do it and how. I just like that part.”

“At STARBASE is where they told us how awesome they did with Lego robotics, and we never had anything like that here at St. Michael's,” said Kolter.

Before long, Mrs. Kolter was on a mission to find funding for Lego robotics at her school. Thanks to donations, they were able to buy a couple of robots and start an after-school program for grades 5 through 8.

The $1,000 from Martin's Super Markets' One School at a Time grant will help them expand.

“That means we can buy more robots,” explained Lilly Hinderlider. “We won't have to be in such big groups. Everybody will get hands-on time.”

The hands-on learning is helpful for kids who may need some extra help with math.

“Before we started working with them, math was kind of hard for me,” admitted Keyton Doran. “When we started working with this, it started getting a little more easier.”

Johnny thinks hands-on learning is better than a textbook.

“This is totally way better,” laughed Jimenez, while looking at his teacher. “Hands-on learning about it and doing the math, we're learning, but I don't really know that. It's just cool to do what we're doing right now.”

After adding to their Lego program, Kolter hopes to enter the students in competitions this fall.

If you would like to nominate your school for a One School at a Time grant, just fill out an application online at michianaschools.com