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Paula Carlson

Designed, built and programmed robots

2019 STEM Scholar
Tripoli, IA Tripoli Middle/Senior High School

Paula’s Big Idea: Paula’s students built and programmed robots to explore scientific concepts. Her plans included building a robotic hand that was able to perform a “dangerous” task, using robotic components to build a gas pressure device to test grip strength in robotic hands. Students were be able to control the thumb separate from the fingers. Additionally, they used myoware sensors to use muscle movements in the arm to control the hand. Students revised the design of the hand to improve functionality, flexibility and grip strength. Students had to use problem solving, collaboration and perseverance to successfully create their robots.

Learning outcomes included robotics concepts such as the use of sensors and motors, designing and prototyping, safety, programming and project management. The integration of programming, engineering and the creative process helped students understand how STEM disciplines fit together.

Interesting Facts:  Paula has worked with Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) – an educational center that develops curricular materials, provides educational support, and conducts research and evaluation in the fields of science and technology. She helped develop a pilot body systems unit for middle school.  Paula is a model teacher (teacher leader) in her district and enjoys sharing new ideas with her fellow staff members.

In her own words: "Since my children are in sports, last year I got my bus driving license so I can drive the team to a lot of their sporting events. I love to interact with the students in this new way."