As the coordinator of the Computer and Technology Endorsement and Master of Arts in Education Learning Design and Technologies track, Dr. Jacque Mumford has devoted her research to the integration of technology, coding and computational thinking in the classroom.
Working with first grade teacher Mrs. Bridget Scofinsky at Damascus Elementary, Dr. Mumford has been instrumental in the launch of a new robotics club to the school located in rural Mahoning County. The Robotics program has exceeded all expectations with more than one-third of the student population regularly staying after-school to explore the world of robotics through the Damascus Wonder Workshop Warrior, or DW3.
When the forms went home on the first day of school, Scofinsky and Dr. Mumford had expected about 40 kids to sign up. Much to their surprise, an overwhelming 150 responded. During the 10-week program, students divide their time between the Robotics Lab, where they work with Wonder Workshop Dot and Dash Robotics and coding, working on challenges for the robots to complete, and the Innovation Lab, where they use different technologies such as Lego WeDo 2.0 robotics, Ozobot Robots, SnapCircuits, Hexbugs, 3D Augmented Reality Books and more.
“At a time when testing pressure dominates school culture, this program gives students the opportunity to use new technologies while addressing 21st century skills such as creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking,” said Dr. Mumford. “It is sometimes loud, messy, and a bit chaotic, but students are up moving and working in small groups throughout the school using different tools to solve missions. The focus isn't on doing things perfectly, but rather on proposing and trying new solutions, testing prototypes, making revisions, and being resilient.”
The DW3 Program is able to provide children the exposure to technology needed in the classroom today.
“Technology is a tool that can be used to enhance learning. I feel that it best affects the classroom when used by students for active learning, hands-on work, and inquiry-based activities,” said Dr. Mumford. “Technology offers opportunities for differentiating instruction to meet the needs and learning preferences of all learners. It is critical to integrate technology effectively by implementing systematic approaches to plan, develop, deliver, support, and assess technology integration.”
Thanks to the generosity of parent and community volunteers each week, all students interested were able to be a part of the program.
“One of the best parts of this is how we bring the Walsh mission to life in this program. We don't turn any students away. We don't limit the program to just gifted students or students with perfect behavior; we welcome all students to participate and work together, to learn, and to think critically, compassionately and globally,” said Dr. Mumford. “The DW3 program we created uses relatively inexpensive resources that have been loaned, donated, or provided to the program by the community. Families and the community members involved in this program share the vision that preparing our students for careers in the future involves STEM/STEAM exposure in the elementary schools. It's impressive to see that this program--done completely by volunteers--has taken off and enjoyed such success. I'm humbled by all of the help, donations, and time that so many people have given to bring this experience to 150 rural children.”