Cutting Edge Curriculum Could Be Coming to CMS

CONCORD, NC — A curriculum designed to help kids with autism is now teaching tomorrow’s tech workforce how to program robots!

It’s an educational experience light years from textbooks, pencils and paper. And it could be a key to STEM learning for students in Charlotte.

“Hello ya’ll, my name is Will,” says Jett the robot.

This is not your parents’ school curriculum Or mine for that matter. This is cutting edge

“Just to like be in second grade and have something like that in the classroom, would have opened our eyes to so many other possibilities,” says Hayden Alexander.

We watched Hayden, and other students from Hickory Ridge High School program RoboKind’s facially expressive and socially interactive robots.

“Oh, it was a piece of cake,” says classmate Cameron Baute. “You just drag and drop. That’s all.”

“And when I first asked them, do you want to code and program?” says Dr. Greg Firn, RoboKind’s chief operating officer. “They were going like…no. I said, see, that’s it! That’s what we’re trying to get to. We want to demystify it. It does not have to be complicated.”

The Robots-4-STEM curriculum is designed to give kids a new concept of computer science through hands-on, student-driven learning.

Dr. Firn, a former superintendent in Anson County, says the software was originally designed to help autistic children communicate.

It is easy to use. And doesn’t even require a teacher with computer expertise.

“We’re focused on literacy,” says Firn. “We’re focused on numeracy. We need to get those skills mastered. This lends itself towards building those skill sets. But also making it fun and exciting to do so.”

The 36-hour program is real world, creative, giving the students a tangible end product. And they’re having fun learning algorithms, coding and programming. All skills today’s student needs for the future.

“As a result of some of our pilots that we’ve done, is we’ve increased the number of students enrolled in more formal, or traditional, coding and programming experiences,” explains Firn.

Robots-4-STEM is geared toward elementary and middle school students.

Firn says he has talked with superintendent Clayton Wilcox about adding the program to the CMS curriculum.