This hands-on program at Benedict A. Cucinella School enhances autistic students’ creative thinking, communication skills, scientific thinking and problem-solving abilities by working with robotics. At the same time, it promotes learning in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Students are engaged in basic computer programming, keyboarding and robot construction.

Started in 2012, the Robo Kids program involves preschool and school-age special needs students in a motivating learning experience, by inviting them to build robotic projects such as cars that follow light or animals that can make sound. The students work like engineers, exploring gears, levers, motors, sensors and programming loops. They become story tellers, too, by creating robots that move in response to the environment.

For students who have difficulty in social interactions, the robots encourage them to participate in social interaction and negotiations. Robots also allow for a young child’s imagination to flourish.

The program has received funding through a New Jersey Association for Educational Technology grant, the Parent-Teacher Organization, and local businesses.

Information

Contact: Amanda Miranda, special education teacher, amiranda@wtschools.org

Online: http://www.njsba.org/news/school-leader/07082014/innovations-in-special-ed-2014-winners.php

Recognized by the 2014 Innovations in Special Education program

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