Three trucks made of out of Legos sit on the center of a classroom table at Memorial Elementary School, in Riverview. To the uninformed, these look like any other toys you’d find in a boy’s room for after-school play. To the fifth grade Robotics team at Memorial, these trucks are the pathway to learning, exploring and predicting scientific outcomes.. DFCU Financial’s donation of $5,000 made the Lego Mindstorms robotics program accessible for all three elementary schools in Riverview.
Memorial Principal Angelyn Maxon is thankful for the donation and its significant impact on her students. “The next generation of science standards requires us to teach new ways of exploring and showing learning through models. In fact, the M-STEP (Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress) is going on right now and is very much connected to models, predictions and testing theories, so it’s being put to use as we speak.”
The Riverview Robotics team recently gave a demonstration to DFCU Riverview Branch Manager Alison Wright. “When the students entered the classroom, they ran to the toy models waiting on the table and couldn’t wait to show me what they’ve created,” said Alison. “To hear their knowledge and see their enthusiasm was such a great way to start the day and so inspiring. It makes me proud of what we do in the community.”
The Lego Mindstorms kits come with a computer, enabling students to program the trucks to spin, turn and avoid obstacles like table legs. One Robotics team member said the process hasn’t been without its challenges. “We initially programed our robot wrong and it just kept doing doughnuts on the floor,” he said with a chuckle. “We figured out how to correct it and now it works just fine.”
Another team member said, “People give you challenges in life and you have to adjust to get it right and it usually takes a couple of tries. These robots help us figure out problems and solutions.”
The DFCU donation--in addition to the purchase of 13 robotics kits used by fourth and fifth grades in the district--also funded digital scales for use with fourth grade math classes. Math Teacher Mr. Oliver is pleased with the additional learning the scales provide and the connection to science, as well. “The scales make students question different aspects instead of just being taught the outcome. We just weighed two objects very different in size but weighing exactly the same. This illustrates concepts visually better than me just talking in class.”
Part of DFCU Financial’s mission is supporting educational excellence in Michigan, and we are honored to enable these young minds.