MCCORDSVILLE — Trina Conover’s second grade McCordsville Elementary School class enjoyed having Indy Art Lab teach students basic circuitry and an introduction to robotics.

Thanks to a teacher-requested grant provided by the Mt. Vernon Education Foundation, students learned about basic circuitry by investigating the parts that make up an electric toothbrush: on/off switch, battery, vibrating motor and connecting circuits.

They created a moving robot from various parts including toothbrush components, jello cups, ping-pong balls, tapes, metallic pipe cleaners and stickers. These charming robots are great introductions to robotics and making moving objects and inventions.

Conover has made a concentrated effort to incorporate more STEM activities into her class’s science curriculum, she said.

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“It has really helped students to start thinking ‘outside the box’ and develop their building and engineering skills at a young age,” Conover said. “One of our Indiana standards for second grade is for students to develop a simple model, investigate it and describe how their model functions. I knew it would go along with the STEM activities we had been working on.”

Most of the students said they were excited about the visit because they couldn’t wait to build something by themselves that moved. On the day of the visit, The Art Lab gave a presentation about how circuits work and the many places they are used. They also talked about all the different ways robots are used. One student said their favorite part was learning about how robots are used to save peoples’ lives or find them if they’re lost.

After the presentation, students were given time to create their robot. Students used common household items like pool noodles, Styrofoam balls, toothpicks, and the motors from electric toothbrushes. When they had finished their creations, they were able to put their robot in the circle on a table to watch it move. Students were amazed at how the structure and balance of their creation could determine if their robot moved in circles or back and forth. One of the favorite parts of the afternoon was after everyone had finished their robot, they were able to put them in the circle to battle to see whose robot could stay in the circle the longest. One student described this as the “best day ever.”

“This was definitely a fantastic opportunity for my second graders,” Conover said. “I loved being able to watch their creativity and imaginations at work. It was especially rewarding to see students who may struggle in other subject areas really excel in this activity.”