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Growth Mindset: Building a Robot

For this lesson, you will want to have enough Brushbot kits for every student you are working with.

Time: approx. 30 min.

Part 1: Growth mindset and fixed mindset are some patterns that researchers have observed in students.

Here are a series of statements that can be used to assess a person’s fixed or growth mindset.  I like to review them before presenting the activity and encourage students just to note where they fit.  The actual survey can be found here.

The RSA animate video below has an excellent overview of how Growth and Fixed mindsets express themselves and are developed.  To use this with a group of students, plan to pause the video at 4:23 to allow students to talk about the issues raised.  Be careful not to equate a fixed mindset with bad and a growth mindset with good.

After watching this video, allow time to review the questions outlined previously and reflect on why mindset is so important.  Using daily reminders about growth mindset and keeping company with those that support your growth mindset is important.  Make a commitment as a class to support a growth mindset environment and see every setback as a learning opportunity.

Pass out batteries – identify batteries as a technology that today looks common but, was once a science experiment. Have students hold the battery between their thumb and forefinger and envision a tiny bit of electricity moving through their hands.

Pass out the kits – take out the cell phone motor and have students get it moving with the battery.

  • This a moment pregnant with learning potential.
  • The flow of electricity, what is causing the motor to vibrate…
  • What happens if the wires are switched to the opposite side of the battery.

Leave the students with the idea that potential energy is transferred into kinetic energy and that they have the tools in the kit to turn this energy into a robot.

Leave the students to work on their project. This is hard to not help, but control yourself and let them do the exploring. Ask questions to help guide frustrated engineers. Remember, they are learning to exercise growth mindset.

Once it works, have them observe how different ones perform. What can be done to compensate.

At the end of the time help them disconnect their robots and take them home to prepare for the next day’s competition.

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