- Sponsorship -

New robotics class brings 21st century tech skills

Shane Johnson smiled proudly as he watched a baseball-sized sphere spin and flash its colored lights thanks to the programming exercise he had just completed in his robotics class.

Shane Johnson enjoys learning how to program his robotic sphere at Mill Creek Middle School

“It’s just fun,” said Johnson as he and his fellow eighth graders at Mill Creek Middle School completed the exercise under the tutelage of veteran technology instructor Harold Schneider.

Robotics is a new rotation class at the school this year as the district attempts to introduce its students to STEM courses earlier in their education, according to principal Gus Harju. 

“This is an opportunity to bring 21st century technology skills to students that may make a change in their life and may allow them to make a career choice,” says Harju. 

Veteran teacher Harold Schneider is teaching eighth graders how to program robotic spheres

The robotic Spheros and iPads used to program them were donated to the district by the Comstock Park Education Foundation. The students are shown how to program the spheres from their iPads by watching a YouTube video. 

Programs include making spheres roll through an obstacle course and flash a series of lights. After they complete the program, students can verify their work by seeing if the spheres respond correctly. 

For Schneider, the robotics class is an opportunity to teach students the basics of programming through a collaborative, project-based approach. He put together the curriculum this past summer after being asked to teach the class.

Schneider, a teacher for 28 years, said his middle school technology classes help students identify whether they want to pursue a career in technology before they get to high school. “I’m an old industrial education guy,” he says with a smile. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve been the technology guy.”

- Sponsorship -
James Harger
James Harger
James Harger left School News Network in January of 2020. James previously reported on West Michigan's economy, courts and politics for The Grand Rapids Press and Mlive.com for more than 37 years. He also is employed as Servanthood Leader at Immanuel Lutheran Church in downtown Grand Rapids. A graduate of Central Michigan University, he also has worked for publications in Holland, Mount Pleasant and Lansing. He is married to Lisa and has one daughter, who lives in Ann Arbor.


Good behavior encouraged at home

For students learning from home, positive behavior rewards are still possible...

Discovering bugs by tying flies

Northview’s coordinator of outdoor experiences, a fly-fishing aficionado, used the sport to teach elementary students about macroinvertebrates and making their own flies...

Pen pals build bonds during remote learning

How does a teacher create get-to-know-you opportunities for her new class of third-grade distance learners?

Have books, will deliver

To make sure virtual students still have access to books, this middle school media clerk built her own online platform for the library, created a contactless book pick-up at the school and is delivering books to students at their homes...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

New high school teachers rise to challenges of pandemic year

Four new high-school teachers have so far led in-person, hybrid and virtual classes, having accepted the challenges of teaching in the midst of a pandemic...

No obstacle too challenging for young problem-solvers

Problem solving, strategic thinking and collaboration are on tap for young thinkers in a program at Pine Island Elementary School...

Comstock Park closes all schools for in-person instruction

Dave Washburn, superintendent of Comstock Park Schools, said the decision to go all-virtual was made due to the number of positive COVID-19 cases among staff and students, as well as the number of staff and students quarantined...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU