To commemorate Neuroscience Awareness Week, the Upper School's newly formed Neuroscience Club hosted a series of Lower School activities after Spring Break. Club members read Dr. JoAnn Deak's "Your Fantastic Elastic Brain" to second and third graders, introduced them to some key anatomical features in the brain, and discussed the wonders of "neurosculpting," and having a growth mindset. LS students were also invited to jot down their "brainiest" neuroscience questions on cards; club members will answer these questions during their next club meeting and send them back to their LS buddies. Future goals for the Neuroscience Club include more fun outreach efforts and preparations for the International Brain Bee and Brain Awareness Video Contest.
Robotics and STEM
The path towards a passion for STEM starts early at Potomac. Curious minds are sparked through fun and intentional tinkering and engineering.
Students have many opportunities to engage in science, technology, engineering, and math activities both in the classroom and in co-curricular activities. By building a student's tool box and STEM skill set, students will competently and confidently achieve technology standards and skills in exciting ways.
POTOMAC ROBOTICS PROGRAM PROMOTES STEM
Almost 100 students in grades 5-12 compete in Potomac’s robotics program. Younger students participate in the FIRST Lego League. In grades 8-12, students participate in the VEX Robotics Competition, a worldwide program of over 4,500 teams. Collectively, Potomac teams have experienced phenomenal success over the past few years.
Through teamwork, play, and problem solving, robots help students develop key thinking skills in the exciting field of coding and robotics. In K-5 technology classes, all students engage with VEX robotics through building and coding challenges. Students in grades 6-12 have the opportunity to join a competitive robotics team, offering a motivating environment to learn and push STEM skills to new levels.
What the vex?
By its nature, the study of robotics inherently incorporates all four pillars of STEM. VEX IQ is a snap-together robotics system designed to provide an opportunity for future engineers of all skill levels. Through incorporating advanced concepts into an accessible package, the system also naturally encourages teamwork, problem solving, and leadership.
Working with the VEX IQ platform gives the students a foundation in engineering design and programming at the Middle School age that will continue in the Intermediate School and directly translate to VEX Robotics in the Upper School. The VEX IQ platform introduces students to VEXCODE programming, which uses a standard coding system that can expand into Python.
Co-oper-tition and generosity of spirit
There is a tern in robotics: co- oper- tition. It is preparing, training and doing your very best in a contest while also showing deep kindness and respect, to your opponent, especially when it matters.
Our robotics program sent two teams to compete in the national finals of the U.S. Open Robotics championship. Both teams were well-prepared, skilled and highly competitive eager, to win the championship. In that final match, one team- perhaps the stronger team, had a malfunction- their robot needed to be repaired and could not continue without a timeout. The team used a 30 second timeout, but unfortunately, they did not have enough time to make all the necessary repairs.
This week SERC seniors presented their impressive research projects to the Upper School student body. The seniors shared their learning and growth perspectives as students in the SERC program. The presentations included the use of AI to detect hidden information in medical images (Arya Bansal), micromotors that can deliver drugs to specific organs (Alex Christ), the development of an app for the detection of fake media (Mika Dewar), an evaluation of turkey muscle scaffolds as a potential treatment of muscle loss (Lauren Foster), designing a competitive antagonist drug for myelin damage in the peripheral nervous system (Keyana McLennon), identifying the most reliable test in the use of arm prosthetics (Andrew Lay), enamel as a potential biomarker for major depressive disorder (Grace Lee), evaluating the importance of classifiers in DCIS (Layah Nasr), the potential use of lunar soil to grow plants (Laura Taylor), theoretical and modeling solutions for habitability of planets (Lulu Tierney), and the use of an aerodynamic model to evaluate the reentry parameters of Artemis’ Orion Shuttle (Jack Wigmore). Thank you, seniors, for your commitment to research and to the SERC program!
Last Friday’s Grade 3 Science Fair was a day of discovery, learning, and excitement. Over the past month, our third grade scientists worked on perfecting their experiments in preparation for their presentations to the Potomac community. Some of the project titles included Bubble Bounce House, Bacteria Paradise, The Great Cookie Dunk, and Keep Me Warm. Check out the photos.
Ever wonder what goes on during K-5 robotics classes? There is certainly a healthy mix of cheering, tinkering, and strategizing! While Potomac has a K-12 robotics program, in the Lower and Middle Schools, robotics is a part of the tech and innovation curriculum – which spans technology, engineering, computer science, and Potomac’s life skills – it also includes our ETC program. Check out students' thoughts on problem-solving, collaboration, and perseverance.
Through our program, we strive to encourage our students to take interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) related topics, in an exciting, yet challenging atmosphere.
What is the program's mission?
Our mission is to inspire students to become scientific leaders by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills. The Potomac School's Robotics program inspires innovation and fosters qualities such as self-confidence, responsibility, communication, and leadership. All members are encouraged to participate in all aspects of preparing a robot for competition, as robotics is a multidisciplinary field.
At Potomac, our mentors encourage professionalism, striving toward high-quality work and dedication and emphasizing the importance of respect for others. While `our teams compete against each other during tournaments, they must also be able to cooperate and work together. Teammates push, cheer, and encourage each other to achieve and exceed expectations. Students are able to learn and teach each other, allowing the teams to reach an even higher level of understanding.
Who can participate in Robotics?
Potomac students in grades 6 through 12 are invited to participate in the program.
What is Lego League?
Lego League is the robotics program for students in sixth grade; they may apply to participate at the beginning of the school year. Students are taught to model professionalism while acquiring the general skills needed to master robotics basics. This year, three teams of students were formed and will be competing at the regional level with the potential to go onto States.