The 4th Grade STEM Project is an annual event where S.M.A.R.T. team members teach 4th graders how to measure to the nearest 1/16 of an inch.  With this skill the 4th graders were able to construct wooden key racks.

Jay Elementary School 4th grade, SMART Robotics team up for project

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Jay Elementary School fourth graders in Donna Labbe’s class were up at the high school for a class on measuring recently. They made their own key racks with the help of Spruce Mountain High School Technology Education teacher Dan Lemieux and some of the SMART Robotics students. Here, left to right, Alyssa Houston, Jazmyn Tardif, Ella Plourde, and Paris Howes work on their key racks as SMART Robotics team member Baylee Gilboe observes.

JAY – Through a simple, hands-on activity, Jay Elementary School fourth graders learned something recently at Spruce Mountain High School’s industrial arts lab that will help them the rest of their lives.

As they learned about the value of measuring in everyday life, Spruce Mountain Technology Education teacher Dan Lemieux told them that the skill was only useful if the students practiced it. “Do you think I really need to know how to play video games?” he asked the class. “I don’t need to know how to play video games, but if I spent a lot of time at it, like two hours a day, I could get really good at it. If you want to learn how to measure, you need to practice it.”

With the help of Lemieux and some of the Spruce Mountain Area Robotics team, the fourth graders put together their own key racks. They learned about the practical applications of math, as well as safety when using power tools. As an added bonus, they got to see the SMART Robotics team’s robot that was in competitions last year and also view the robot the team is building this winter for March and April regional competition.

“Our country is one of the only countries in the world that hasn’t switched to the metric system,” Lemieux told the students. He explained the differences between the metric and English system, and how the one foot measurement originated from the human foot, which is about one foot long.

The students learned about the measurement units on a ruler. They also received another piece of advice from Lemieux to increase their general knowledge.

“Read a book,” he emphasized. “I tell kids all the time in my classes that if you read a book for a half hour a day, you’ll do better in school.”

The students made dents in their key racks with an awl to show where they wanted the key holes to be drilled, traced where the wooden blocks would be cut, and sanded them with the help of the SMART Robotics students. They learned about safety around machines, and were told to wear safety glasses and stay back at a safe distance.

Once the wooden blocks and been shaped and the key holes cut, they were put through a sander to smooth them. The SMART Robotics students and teacher Donna Labbe helped them stain them.

Originally, the measuring project was done with an International Paper grant for innovative ways to help teach students measuring skills. Even though the grant has long since expired, Lemieux is continuing the tradition, although he said he hadn’t done it for two years because he was so busy with classes and projects.

“One of the reasons we’re re-instituting this is it’s part of SMART Robotics’ mission to emphasize STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education,” he said. “you also need to be able to problem solve on the fly. What’s unique about our SMART Robotics team is we’re fully integrated into our schools and our community.”

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SMART Robotics student Austin Gilboe helps Ryder Welch by cutting his key rack.

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Spruce Mountain High School Technology Education teacher Dan Lemieux hands a sanded key rack to Ben Wright.

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SMART Robotics students Adam Gettle and Baylee Gilboe, along with Jay Elementary School fourth grade teacher Donna Labbe, help the fourth graders stain their key racks

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At right, SMART Robotics team member Dustin Jones shows last year’s robot that the SMART team used in competition to the curious fourth graders.