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CEF Grant Brings Coding and Robotics to EP

murphy handing out robots(November 15, 2023) Earlier this month, several fifth-grade classes at Elkins Park were introduced to a new STEM and robotics program by Kevin Murphy, the district’s instructional technology teacher leader for K-6. As part of the initiative, students programmed and tested robots with the goal of creating code for their robot to complete a successful rescue mission. 

Murphy received a grant from the Cheltenham Education Foundation to purchase the 30 robots needed for the program. He views robotics as a natural entryway into programming, which leads to highly engaging, hands-on learning where students can develop skills like communication, collaboration, problem solving, and critical thinking outside of the traditional classroom setting. Students won’t be graded on their performance during the program. The goal is to expose all students to STEM and robotics, not just high performing students. 

“Students will make more mistakes in the 50 minutes they spend here than they probably will all day. The only difference is there is no risk of jeopardizing their grades,” said Murphy. “They’ll have the chance to learn from the mistakes of their peers in order to think in new ways and develop a growth mindset.” 

The program will unfold in three phases where students will learn to work independently and with a partner to find the most efficient path for the robots to follow on their rescue mission. 

“There is no wrong way to create a path,” said Murphy. “There could be 30 different paths from 30 different students, but maybe one is more efficient. I want them to think outside the box and make a collaborative effort to solve the mission efficiently.” 

The program is only offered to fifth grade students, however Murphy plans to extend the program to sixth grade students. He brought this program to Elkins Park to fill the robotics gap between elementary and middle school curricula in a highly engaging project that will benefit the students more than a traditional STEM lesson in the classroom.