Lower schoolers program robots, print in 3-D

Students reap the benefits of tech education

The Lower School has acquired 14 iPads, five programmable robots, a 3-D printer and an interactive BrightLink projector in an effort to equip our youngest students with the technological skills they need for school and beyond. Lower School Academic Technologist (AT) Michael Fisher has been using these devices with his after-school technology clubs — and he aims to incorporate them even more next year when computer science becomes an official part of the Lower School curriculum.

“The capabilities of these technological tools are only limited by the number of ideas and the communication we have among the teachers,” Fisher said. “The possibilities of what we can do are endless.”


The boys in Fisher’s tech clubs have already learned to use an iPad app called Blockly to write code that moves the robots anywhere they want them to go. Fisher also plans to use the iPads to help the students develop multimedia presentations where they record video and take photos while they are on field trips and then incorporate those media into a report about what they learned.

The 3-D printer has been especially popular with students, who use it to create everything from mini ice hockey rinks and basketball courts to bracelets and musical instruments. And a number of boys were so captivated by writing computer code in tech club that they have signed up for online classes to hone their skills.

“I have kids showing me that they go into Google Chrome, open up script editor, tinker with the code, and then refresh the page to see the changes they’ve made,” Fisher said. “They can start to see the power of what they can do.”

For Fisher, this emphasis on independence and learning by trial and error is just as important as technological savvy.

“What I think is so great with technology at the third through fifth grade level is that kids can fail hundreds of times and try again,” Fisher said. “Technology is very well suited to develop important non-cognitive qualities such as grit and resilience because you can start right over. What I really want to instill in the boys is, ‘It didn’t work out? What else can you try?’”