Robots and creativity collide in K-12 educator workshop

Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University, St. George News

CEDAR CITY — Southern Utah University’s artsFUSION program increases the quality and quantity of arts educational experiences for children in southern Utah. Offering training for educators throughout the year, the program’s next workshop for K-12 educators, Arts and Bots, runs Thursday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Arts and Bots workshop teaches instructors how to build and animate cardboard robots using art supplies, motors, LED lights, moving parts, and sound, as well as learning two block-based coding platforms to animate the robots. A flexible project, these bots can be integrated with many subjects. Following the training participants can check out robotic kits from the SUU Center for STEM Teaching and Learning.

Arts and Bots registration fee is $45 which includes lunch both days and covers the cost of supplies. Participants earn 15 relicensing points and SUU continuing education credit is optional, with a small additional cost.

Alisa Petersen, professor and director of artsFUSION, firmly believes in the importance of including art in the classroom.

My goal is to help teachers and students increase their creative capacity,” Petersen said. “My mother taught me to love art – that love inspires me to work to provide children with more art opportunities in school.”

A past workshop titled Math Music Making taught K-2 teachers ways to integrate art into math. Teachers learned how to enhance elementary math teaching through simple hands-on music and visual arts activities such as singing games, rainbow number bonds, sketches, kente cloth measuring, skip counting stamping, abstract expressionism, and more.

Bonnie Barnum, a special education teacher in the Washington County School District applied what she learned at the Math Music Making workshop by combining an art activity with a listening comprehension activity. Her students made kente cloth, a type of cloth made by weaving fabric or paper together, while she read them a book about different cultures in Africa.

“I chose this project so my students could use their creativity and have fun while they are learning,” Barnum said. “I like to find different fun ways for them to learn to make it more interesting.”

ArtsFUSION provides instruction through four avenues: professional learning workshops, the Beverley Taylor Sorensen Elementary Arts Learning Program, community projects and preservice learning. Each workshop is created for application to a large variety of teaching situations.

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