Student projects highlight hands-on learning 🎦
Posted on 03/03/2020
A student drives an electric car

Students in Lockhart Middle School’s Center for the Advancement of Science and Engineering magnet program enjoy seeing their schoolwork come to life.

Using a Duke Energy Math Science Energy Education Impact Grant students built a 7-foot droid to monitor the hallways and notify administrators if someone needs medical assistance or is tardy to class. The robot, or “Bob,” has a 360-degree camera and sensors that can dodge obstacles as it patrols the halls. Students can operate Bob with a remote or with code.

This hands-on project taught students real-world computer programs, like CAD for design and Arduino for programming, as well as problem-solving skills when installing the electrical connections and infrared sensors.

“It is so exciting to see him working. It’s crazy to think we built [the robot],” Paris Robinson, CASE magnet eighth grader, said.

In addition to showcasing a robot, seventh-grade students designed and built electric cars. Eight teams of 4-5 drivers each tested the potential for low power consumption and aerodynamics during a day of driving. The cars run on lithium batteries and are driven via throttle control.


And because CASE teacher Roger Barrios loves to challenge his students to think outside the box, he also supported a group of students who built a life-sized replica of a Horten Ho 229 World War II plane. The 50 foot long, 7 feet high aircraft actually works!

Students spent time last school year studying the plane, designing it in CAD and creating a budget. After securing another Duke Energy grant to purchase the supplies, they constructed it. While the students say “it’s 90% to the original specs,” one thing they are problem-solving is its power. When they attempted to fly it, there was too much power and it damaged the propellers.

“It feels amazing. I didn’t think middle schoolers could pull it off. It’s cool that we studied it and then we got to build it,” Ronin Ehrhart, eighth grader, said.

The CASE Magnet program provides a rigorous integrated curriculum that focuses on science, technology, engineering and math. Students have a selection of science-based electives, combined with core curriculum that infuses STEM practices of inquiry-based thinking and project-based learning.

“It’s a hands-on program where the students learn how to create beautiful things. They learn how to weld, design and fabricate items, like the robocop, electric car and airplanes,” Barrios said. “I’m very proud. My students are doing an excellent job. They are the future and I want them to have all the capacities for when they get older.”