High School Science Teacher
Dayton Christian High School
“The curriculum can be successfully used with an academically diverse student body. It engages differing skills, enabling the students to share their expertise and learn from one another. It promotes peer teaching and creates natural teachers.”
Bill Norvell teaches science to middle to middle-upper class, college-bound students. He has 15+ years of classroom experience and a Master’s degree in Biological Science. Bill implemented WaterBotics twice a week for four weeks as part of an elective Applied Science class for grades 10-12. Class periods were three hours in duration. The class was open to all students and class size was limited to 24 students.
“The WaterBotics curriculum fits perfectly with our pre-engineering program…the curriculum is very broad based and engages differing skills allowing students with varying strengths and expertise to learn from one another.” Bill observed that the real-world, team-based missions were highly engaging for the students and built student confidence and self-esteem when the team succeeded in achieving the mission. With respect to challenges, he noted the programming requirements were a stumbling block at first. However, that obstacle was overcome when a few of his students who were skillful programmers were able to teach him the required skills.
Bill had advice for educators thinking of adopting the WaterBotics program. He suggested that because the curriculum is well-designed and self-contained, new educators should not try to customize or add-on to the program initially. “Mastery comes with experience and you need to teach the entire curriculum at least once to master the curriculum. The first time through I felt a little overwhelmed.” However, by the third time through Bill had customized the curriculum to include introductory land-based robotics activities to familiarize students with LEGO® parts and their functions. This modification, Bill said, “Expands the curriculum somewhat and functions as a ramp-up. I have the students build a moveable land-based robot with certain capabilities to give them exposure to robotics and get them ready for the first water-based mission.”
In discussing some of the strengths of the program, Bill remarked, “The curriculum can be successfully used with an academically diverse student body. It engages differing skills, enabling the students to share their expertise and learn from one another. It promotes peer teaching and creates natural teachers.” He noted that in addition to being an academically rigorous curriculum, it is also a team-based curriculum. “The thrill for me was to see students engage as peer teachers, supporting one another, and learning to be effective team players.”