What second grade teacher Julie Holly brings to her students rises far above simple classroom learning. The Valley View Elementary School teacher has opened up a world of opportunities to a group of eager young students.
While homeschooling her kids, Julie had the opportunity to participate in special robotics days as well as extended robotics classes. It transformed her teaching.
“My instructional practices were changed through our homeschooling experience, and when I returned to the traditional public school classroom in 2016 I found a happy balance to my instructional practices by implementing extended learning opportunities to traditional instruction,” said Julie, who began the robotics program for younger aged students. “There is a place for every aptitude and ability within robotics. Students collaborate, learn design engineering skills, programing, public speaking, problem-solving skills and more.”
This spring, seven of her team members traveled to the Word Championship and Show in Houston. It was an extraordinary experience for all, including a trip to the Space Center, formerly known as NASA. The team’s challenge for the season was “Mission Moon,” which made the experience at the Space Center that much more special.
“This was powerful because our missions revolved around solving space travel/space station problems. While at the Space Center we were surrounded by many teams from around the globe,” said Julie.
“Equally powerful, and one of the reasons we pushed to bring the dream of attending the event, was meeting teams from around the globe. We met teams from Greece, Lebanon, Japan, China, Canada and more,” said Julie of the opportunity to learn other’s customs and more.
Julie explains that robotics is so much more than building and programming a bot; it’s about presenting and communicating ideas in a clear and thoughtful manner.
They had prepared diligently for the presentation, practicing answering questions about challenges they faced and how they overcame them, as well as how and why they designed their robot and space station.
“My co-coach (Natalie Erickson) and I were on pins and needles as we listened and couldn't be more satisfied with the team’s composure, poise and charismatic demeanor,” Julie said proudly. “During the closing ceremony, our team was awarded the Programming Design Award.”
Julie said the biggest takeaway for these young students this season was that they are stronger when they work together.
“We launched a team, journeyed through the missions and had a pie-in-the-sky experience because we worked together. I hope this leaves a forever impression on these team members that infuses those around them,” she said.
Julie said the team could not have accomplished what they did without the generous support of the community. A heartfelt thank you to all who helped make this dream come true!