'Sugar on a Stick' teaches kids how to learn

Washington, Sun, 01 Apr 2012 ANI

Washington, Apr 1 (ANI): A number of children are exposed to technology at an early age, but few are taught how to harness the power of technology to drive their own learning and their future.

A group of students from North Dakota State University, Fargo, and their advisor, Dr. Kevin Brooks, chair of the English department, are working to change that.

They're partnering with local elementary schools, beginning with Madison Elementary School in Fargo, N.D.

Dr. Brooks and a team of NDSU students have worked with Tech Team students at Madison School for 14 weeks, using a free, open-source software platform called Sugar, which contains software applications that allow kids to explore math, language arts, science, social science and computer programming.

For an hour after school each week, NDSU students and elementary school students used the program for activities that included: studying geometry with a software program called Turtle Art; building a Rube Goldberg machine with a program called Physics; and learning about computer programming using a program called Etoys.

The program culminated with Sugar Day in March, where a dozen students at Madison Elementary School in Fargo became teachers themselves, showing other students what they've learned from the program called "Sugar," as part of the school's Tech Team.

With Sugar Day, these young techies passed along their knowledge to 25 fourth graders, to inspire another group of students for future careers.

At Madison School, the budding techies taught other students to use the computer software's physics tools, pass a fulcrum challenge by balancing objects on a beam, build a conveyor belt or pulley, and put all the pieces together into a Goldberg Machine.

Students also received "Sugar on a stick," which is a computer flash drive loaded with 20 activities, including music software, a typing tutor and puzzle games.

"They are learning how to learn. We essentially present them with a challenge or problem, and they have to solve it. We might be laying the foundation for a career in a technical field such as computer programming, management information systems or technical support," said Brooks.

"But we also want to make sure they have fun learning and solving problems," Brooks added. (ANI)

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