Full STEAM ahead! Children learn about science, robotics in MCC at Do Space class

Children working on robots

Science and technology often go hand-in-hand. During a recent robotics class at Metropolitan Community College at Do Space, children learned different ways to incorporate the two. 

MCC College 4 Kids hosted Bio-BoTs Day Camp, a free, one-day class for children to learn how biology and technology often work closely together. The camp is sponsored by the Peter Kiewitt Foundation’s Summer Fun Program and taught by instructors from Prairie STEM, a local nonprofit that encourages students in Omaha Public Schools to get engaged through STEM activities. Bio-BoTs introduced children to science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM).

Children started off learning the basics of STEAM before getting deeper into each subject, said Chris Swanson, manager of MCC at Do Space.

“They started the kids off with what they know,” he said, showing that students had created “prosthetic” arms out of paper, crayons and twine. “They are learning the common programming language. They take them from knowing virtually nothing to being the experts.”

Prairie STEM executive director Anna Sumner said the children in the class came in saying they knew what they wanted to be when they grew up, with many saying jobs in the STEAM fields.

“They came in saying ‘I want to be a doctor. I want to be a nurse. I want to be an engineer,’” she said. “This is the most focused group of students we’ve ever had.

Bio-BoTs helped teach the students how biology and robotics work together. Sumner said many of the students knew someone with a prosthetic limb and this class helped them to learn more about how they work.

“It became a real connection to the bio world,” Sumner said. “It helped them to understand why someone can’t have just a prosthetic hand and that it connects to other parts of the arm.”

As the day progressed, students were able to build small battery-operated robots that walked on their own and had to figure out the best way to make them operate. Sumner said while the children also learn STEAM subjects, they learn other important principles such as teamwork and problem-solving.

“They do a lot of risk, failure and persistence. What they try the first time might not work, but if they stick with it and persist, they can solve it,” Sumner said. “They’re starting to connect the pieces. It’s fun for me to see them connect the dots.”