John Twichel of Sault St. Marie, Michigan, is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) teacher at Sault Area Middle School serving students of the Tribe of the Chippewa Indians.
John, a previous Dreamstarter teacher grant recipient, used his $1,000 Dreamstarter Teacher grant to purchase technology hardware to enable 150 students to build, maintain and compete using ROVs (remotely operated vehicles).
“The overarching idea of building a complex machine is to have team experience failure,” he reported. “We mentor students on how to fail and how to fail well.
“With each fried hardware component or melted wire is an opportunity to learn and develop grit.”
And while undoubtedly students had many such “failures” along the way, they were hugely successful in the end.
“We exceeded our objective goals,” John told us. “Every team built a highly maneuverable machine that was rated as a success.
“Our 12 travel teams took home every trophy except one!”
John also noted that since receiving his first Dreamstarter Teacher grant a few years ago, that several of his students who have participated in this competition and gone on to higher education and in fields related to this competition.
He added that three of his students who participated in the underwater robotics program have been recruited to the school district’s high school robotics team as 8th grade middle school students.
And on the school’s website, John describes his mission saying, “in everything we do, we believe that tomorrows innovators are today’s STEM students.
“Our goal is to engage and inspire. We provide real-world, hands-on experiences that focus on teamwork, collaboration, and critical thinking.”