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Checking in with Breakthrough Miami and Gulliver FIRST Robotics
Checking in with Breakthrough Miami and Gulliver FIRST Robotics

Gulliver students continue to demonstrate leadership through service, a concept that truly comes to life through a partnership with Breakthrough Miami. The ongoing collaboration aims to give motivated students from low-income backgrounds expanded access to high-level learning opportunities. Gulliver FIRST Robotics students have been committed to inspiring Breakthrough scholars since the program joined forces with the school, leading a number of weekend workshops. These student-led workshops certainly live up to Breakthrough Miami's philosophy of providing its scholars with skills that will prepare them to be lifelong learners.

Below are short recaps of recent Breakthrough Miami and FIRST Robotics workshops, written by Gulliver students.

Egg Drop – November 12, 2016
By: Margaret Rodriguez, '18

On Saturday November 12, Gulliver Prep robotics students merged with Breakthrough Miami in order to promote and teach STEM-related topics to younger fifth and sixth grade students. The robotics students had planned activities such as an egg drop project and a Scratch (an introductory computer science software) coding activity to advocate a love of science and all things engineering. The fifth graders were thrilled to participate in the Egg Drop project in which they were able to plan, design and build a contraption fit to be dropped from the second story of the Atrium.

Gulliver sophomore Oli Hassan recounts the amazing experience she had: "I think it was really cool how supportive the kids were throughout the whole experiment. There was an overwhelming sense of comradery. I can't wait for the next Breakthrough session!"

With the sixth graders, the robotics students were able to teach them introductory aspects of computer science through the software, Scratch. Gulliver freshman Ishan Shah said, "It was nice education for younger students, but it was also a great experience learning from them and seeing them think critically."

Another Gulliver student, sophomore Meyer Hallot, said that his goal was to teach the sixth graders the core skills of computer programming – the concept of variables, if-then statements, and loops. Hallot stated, "We hope that by understanding these core skills the kids will be able to learn programming languages in the future and potentially create useful applications."

All in all, the workshop consisted of fun activities that promoted a love for education, specifically STEM.

Click here for PHOTOS.
Click here for VIDEO.

Bottle Rockets & Computer Games – December 3, 2016
By: Margaret Rodriguez, '18

On December 3, 2016, Gulliver Robotics students again teamed up with Breakthrough Miami in order to promote STEM and teach fifth and sixth grade students about STEM-related topics. The groups were divided again by grade level – the fifth graders were able to create their own water bottle rockets, while the sixth grade students were able to make their own virtual games using computer programs.

The fifth graders were able to go through the entire design process – from being presented a problem, to sketching up a design, to building. Finally at the end of the process, they were able to test their water bottle rockets out on the field for a thrilling experience that brought all of the students together. The sixth graders were also able to receive a hands-on STEM experience, as they were able to design and create their own computer games using rudimentary code.

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Coding and Nutrition – January 28, 2017
Coding recap by: Meyer Hallot, '19
Nutrition segment by Yoly McCarthy, Biomedical Faculty

This particular workshop had a different focus for the fifth grade Breakthrough Miami scholars, as Gulliver students taught them about nutrition and its effect on dental health. They created and facilitated a food lab activity that asked the scholars to organize four food labels by nutritional wealth. They then did a demonstration lab in which the students had to "brush" their "teeth" which were hard boiled eggs. These eggs were covered in a special powder only seen by UV light. After they brushed them, the students used the UV lights to show how much food material was left behind. These fifth grade scholars were pre-assessed and then re-assessed at the end of the lesson showing growth in the area of nutritional knowledge.

As for the coding aspect of the January 28 Breakthrough Miami event, the students learned how to use Python coding. We originally had the idea of teaching the students Python coding at the end of November after having our scratch lesson, but needed to revisit this at a later time. We figured out that Python could be installed on the computer but not run without getting the exact location of its files, and with this information, we decided to design a lesson on Python. We originally were going to teach the students how to make a simple text-based program but ultimately decided against it because we were afraid that the students would not find it interesting. Instead we decided to have the kids manipulate images using Python.

This was a considerably more challenging than the previous plan so we decided to use Pillow, a library for image manipulation. We taught the students the basics of Python, including the different types of variables, arrays, and basic math operation. After getting a feel for the basics we showed the students how to manipulate the color, size and shape of images using Pillow. At the end of the lesson the sixth grade students were given a certificate of completion by Mr. Morell proving they successfully completed lessons on Python.

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