Kenan Fellow Starts Robotics Club at Rutherford School

2014-Roof-08_smallFOREST CITY, N.C. – Heather Roof, a 2014-15 Kenan Fellow, helped to launch the first robotics club at Chase Middle School in Rutherford County Schools.

Roof, who teaches seventh-grade science at Chase Middle in Forest City, won a $5,000 grant from Facebook to buy 12 Lego EV3 kits to start the robotics program. Ninety seventh grade students will have the opportunity to participate in the robotics program two days a week. Using these robots students will build, program, and test solutions based on real-life robotics technology. Next year, Roof plans to enter a team in the NC First Robotics competition.

“The robots are amazing,” said Justin Jenkins, a 14-year-old rising eighth grader. “Not only do I look forward to class I want to stay after school to work on robotics.”

Real-World Connection

Roof was inspired to start the robotics club after spending five weeks last summer interning at the Ply Gem manufacturing facility in Gaffney, South Carolina as a part of her Kenan fellowship. The Kenan Fellows Program provides educators with internship opportunities at local industries and research facilities, 80 hours of professional and leadership development, and a $6,000 stipend that includes travel costs.

“Through the benevolence of Facebook, I have the opportunity to use one of America’s most famous toys, the Lego, to make science, technology, engineering, and math fun for my students!” Roof said. “I have been blessed with many amazing opportunities, such as working with the Kenan Fellows Program, and Ply Gem. As a result, I am more equipped as an educator to ensure that my kids are globally competitive, not just in robotics, but in their future educational endeavors.”

During her time at Ply Gem, Roof learned how robotics are used in the zero-waste manufacturing facility. From that experience she created lessons for her classroom. Her students this year have completed a variety of engineering design challenges inspired by Ply Gem using all recycled materials.

“Interning at Ply Gem had an amazing effect on me. I worked with engineers, accountants, managers, and robots,” Roof said. “I learned so many things, really cool things that continue to have an amazing impact on my classroom.”

Global Teachers Award

This summer, Roof plans to serve as an instructor for Engineering Discovery Camp 2015. The camps, for rising ninth and tenth graders, is a collaboration between N.C. State University and Isothermal Community College. Campers will be engaged in hands-on learning activities that incorporate a variety of engineering concepts.

Roof has also been selected by the Center for International Understanding as a representative for Rutherford county to participate in the Global Teachers to Singapore and Malaysia professional development program. She will travel to Singapore and Malaysia this summer to explore their approach to STEM education as well as gain an understanding of the history, culture and education system of each country. She was awarded a grant through the James G. K. McClure Fund to cover the full cost of the program fee of approximately $6,000.