Today, Gordon's new robotics lab hosted its first sixth grade science class.
This dedicated space is fully equipped to handle multiple teams working with LEGO Mindstorm and EV3 robotics kits.
It will be the new home of sixth grade science, for the next nine weeks.
Gordon's robotics curriculum begins in Early Childhood, and everyone in today's class had worked with LEGO robotics before.
What's new for these students is the competitive element.
In teams of four, they will collaborate on robots that will complete challenges from a list of fourteen published by the international FIRST LEGO League.
They'll design the robot itself, but also - crucially - collaborate on the programming that will put the robot to work.
To get a sense of what is possible, they watched a video of a championship robot at work.
Today's tasks started smaller: create a simple robot, review the fourteen challenges, and begin choosing which challenges to pursue, in which order.
The students thought things through by talking out loud.
The students thought things through by writing things down.
They worked out ideas in silence.
They worked out ideas together
No one stayed in their seats.
The entire room was used.
The double period went by in a flash.
This is what play-based learning looks like in sixth grade.
This is why Gordon needed a dedicated robotics lab.
Sixth graders work on their robots until December. Then, the teams will have an intramural competition that follows the format of the tournament that Gordon's after school seventh and eighth grade robotics team competes in.