HARRELLS — After being awarded a Bright Ideas grant from the Four County Electric Co-op last fall, Harrells Christian Academy’s STEAM Lab directors Kim Bowles of Magnolia and Sabrina Armstrong of Burgaw were invited to present their winning project to the North Carolina Electric Cooperatives’ statewide annual meeting on April 5, at the Hilton North Raleigh/Midtown. Out of many innovative projects local co-ops awarded grants to this year, only HCA’s project was selected to represent the Bright Ideas program to the statewide gathering.
The new STEAM Lab in HCA’s lower school teaches science, technology, engineering, art, and math through integrated, hands-on projects. The award of a Bright Idea grant allowed the Lab to purchase a classroom set of Ozobot mini robots. These tiny, computerized bots “read” colored dots and lines drawn with markers on plain white paper and then move in response, offering students as young as kindergartners a real introduction to the world of computer programming.
As the designated “innovative teacher representatives,” Bowles and Armstrong were asked to show their project to co-op members and discuss how they used their grant to spark curiosity and innovative thinking with their students.
“A lot of things in our society today deal with coding,” Bowles explains. “We don’t tend to think about it, but when we press buttons on the microwave and it cooks our food, there’s coding behind that. Our hope is help students grow up with that understanding already in place. The Ozobots, used first with paper and markers and then with the classroom iPads, are such a great way to give them that understanding. As the kids get older, they can use these bots with more advanced programs such as OzoGroove.”
During the annual meeting, almost 400 attendees visited the Innovation Center, designed around themes of energy, digital communication, and education. Harrells was the sole representative for education.