Franklin Park School Students Participate In ‘STEM Day’

Students were able to operate robots built by the Franklin High School robotics team.

Franklin Park School 3rd Graders spent June 2 building little machines out of Legos and operating robots built by high school students, and participating in other activities meant to introduce them to the world of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

It was all part of “Third Grade STEM Day,” the brainchild of 3rd Grade teacher Tracy Molinari.

Molinari won a $2,400 grant from the Franklin Township Education Association in 2020 for the program, but the spike in Covid-19 cases and the switch to virtual learning forced its postponement.

“We just moved the grant two years’ forward and tweaked it,” she said.

The idea behind the program, Molinari said, was to expose the 3rd Graders to engineering concepts.

The school brought in an outside company, Bricks 4 Kidz, to conduct the Lego portion of the program.

Bricks 4 Kidz introduces students to engineering and architecture through the use of the building block toy.

The project for the Franklin Park School 3rd Graders was to build a paper-crimping machine. Each student was given a box filled with parts, and an illustrated instruction manual on how to build the machine.

Once the machine was completed, they were given a battery powered motor top hook up, and some thin strips of colored paper to crimp.

That activity, Molinari said, is an introduction to robotics, which is where the Franklin High School Robotics Team enters the story.

Molinari said she invited the robotics team to come in and show the students several different types of robots that are used in competition.

The team is part of the FIRST Robotic Competition program, through which robotics teams are given six weeks to design robots to compete in a specially designed game.

The FHS team brought a number of robots to the school to show the 3rd Graders what can be done with advanced designs.

“In the earlier stages, before they get to the high school level, they participate in the Lego activity, with gears and motors,” she said. “So it’s like progressively stepping up.”

After the Bricks 4 Kidz and robotics team programs, the FPS students were led through a variety of programs.

The day was scheduled to end with a robotics assembly, Molinari said.

“This was just a way to engage the 3rd grade in something creative and unique,” she said.

Here are some scenes from the program:

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