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Teacher earns grant for robotics at Howell school

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By Peter Elacqua
Staff Writer

HOWELL – Science teacher Josh Langenberger of Howell Middle School South has received a $4,770 Hipp Foundation grant for a hands-on STEM learning program.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

Langenberger has taught in the Howell K-8 School District for 22 years. He is in his second year at Howell Middle School South.

The grant, which was provided by the New Jersey Education Association’s Hipp Foundation, will help students engineer a minimum of two robotic vehicles capable of performing specific tasks such as moving objects from one location to another via remote commands. The students’ understanding of the robotic system will permit for assembly, disassembly, repair and redesign when necessary.

Students will work with a local chapter of the Technology Student Association (TSA) for collaboration of resources and knowledge. Building and district administrators will be invited to monitor and witness the students’ progress. Students will be invited to preview the collective work in a special robotics exhibition.

“When I asked the students in the TSA what they were looking forward to participating in, many of them said robotics,” said Langenberger, who serves as the TSA adviser. “I sought out grant funding to bring the opportunity to the students.”

The teacher said his goal is to have the program operational for the 2016-17 school year by identifying interested students during September and October. Those students will meet with him after school. Langenberger said he will volunteer his time to serve as the facilitator.

“The idea behind integrating robotics into a middle school curriculum is to provide education through hands-on engineering,” he said. “I am hoping this opportunity will inspire the next generation of innovators.”

The first part of the program will be exploratory and allow the students to learn about the components and systems and how they work together

Students will then be given a problem that has been identified by the VEX IQ, a branding of robotics which combines programming software and interchangeable components to teach students about problem solving. The goal of the program is to combine the two in a way that gives the students the greatest success toward the challenge.

This is the second grant Langenberger has received from the Hipp Foundation. The first was based in VEX robotics at the high school level with middle school students participating.

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