Students Program Basketball Dunking Robots

At 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon, lecturing and mindlessly filling out worksheets gets old fast, really fast. Bored students tend to be pretty vocal about their feelings.

That’s where apprenticeships come in.

Apprenticeships are hands-on, play-in-the-dirt, get covered in paint, learning experiences. Volunteers from all walks of life come into the classroom and bring excitement to learning.

I get to see a lot of the apprenticeships. Database design, acapella, journalism, mock trial, solar cars, cooking, investing, marketing, flag football, etc. etc. But one of my favorites is… the robots.

Everyone knows how awesome robots are. And while we are still waiting for Rosie to clean up after us and the Jetsons, students, through the robotics apprenticeships, are learning valuable skills: computer programming , research and design, collaboration, as well as mathematics.

The following clip is a personal favorite. Featured are two students, and what, upon closer inspection, appears to be a miniature basketball arena, right down to the foul lines and hand-drawn crowd. The sound isn’t great, but what is readily apparent is the excitement and pride these students have for their robot creations. The fact that these are basketball playing robots is icing on the cake (watch out Lebron).

There are lots of ways to teach; and while those other ways of teaching are important and at times effective—not  many of them involve students programming basketball dunking robots. Its learning experiences like this, which students will remember forever, and may bring us closer to that robot utopia.