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Robotics Class Shines again with another “Parent-and-Child Night”

Robotics class for the 3rd graders and above had an exciting night with robots and challenges. Parents got a chance to see the hard work that goes on during class. As members of the FLL (First Lego League), this year students got to focus on building robots for completing missions based on real life problems. They learned more than just robotics with the FLL program. Part of being members of First Lego League is teaching students how to work in teams and respect the Core Values –

  • We are a team.
  • We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors.
  • We know our coaches and mentors don’t have all the answers; we learn together.
  • We honor the spirit of friendly competition.
  • What we discover is more important than what we win.
  • We share our experiences with others.

To create a team environment groups were randomly selected from 3rd to 7th graders. Then each team had to come up with a team name and then brainstorm on a logo. Parents experienced what it is to build a model for their team logo out of random Lego pieces by participating in the Parent – Child Lego building activity.

This year the teams learned about the problem the world faces with trash. They got to do research and learn about the biggest landfill in the world found in the Pacific Ocean. Each team focused on a world problem with trash and came up with their own solutions.

The Robotics teacher, Ms. Lili, explained to parents the work that goes on behind the scenes before getting the robots to run a program and execute a mission. She explained how all the concepts of math and science that they learn throughout the day in school is being applied when they have to program these robots. Students have to calculate angles, rotations, degrees and the concept of light reflection to be able to use all the sensors correctly in their robots. Our team is in discovery stages right now, where all students are getting accustomed to this new flow of work. They have grown a lot through the year and the work they complete with meeting once a week is amazing. These students have excel on the expectations set for them and continue to grow. We continue to perfect our strengths and improve on our weaknesses with a challenging curriculum.

As Ms. Lili stated, “I am very proud of the students and their hard work. They achieved a lot with little guidance and it is amazing what great problem solvers they are. I look forward to next year where we will focus more on the programming. Students are great in building and they will continue to have the freedom to use their creativity, but they will build with a concept in mind. My goal is to give them real life experience about engineering and get them thinking of their goal for each task.”



Robotics Class Hosts the First Parent and Child Night

Montessori Academy is proud to announce the first Parent and Child Night Event for the Robotics Class. This school year Montessori Academy became a member of the First Lego League Organization that allows the students to learn about real world problems and explore solutions using their imagination and Legos.  The focus for their projects has been about Trash. Students learned the problems we face with trash and how we need to work together to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
We are proud of the success this program has brought to our Robotics Class. Students have learned the importance of teamwork by brainstorming together on ideas to build a team image and a solution for the problem with trash.
For the first and second graders class, each team got to pick a piece of trash to focus on, such as Soda Cans, Boxes, Books, Paper Towels, Candy Wrappers, etc. With little to no instructions they built a concept with Legos and explained how they were going to manage their trash. One team built a factory that had a shredder that shredded unwanted books to recycle the paper, and another built a farm where used paper towels were used as compost for growing vegetables in their garden. We had two teams that created conveyor belts out of legos and wheels to recycle their trash, and two others that made cranes to pick their trash from lakes and trash cans to accumulate and send through a recycling process. As you see the first and second graders have learned about being an engineer and taking a concept to an actual model as well as the problem our world faces every day with trash.
For the third graders and above, their project takes the concept a little further. These students are currently working on building a robot that completes missions in a field made out of Legos. Their missions are predetermined by First Lego League and are focused on Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. This class was divided into two teams that also had to learn about working in a team environment, building a concept and logo to represent their team and brainstorm on ideas to complete the missions in short times. Parents will also get a chance to see what these future engineers have been working on later in April.
In the words on the Robotics teacher Ms. Lili, “the focus of Robotics class is not to play with Legos, but to train future engineers that will later find the solutions to our world problems. I am very proud of every student in this class and I hope that being exposed to the beauty of technology and the endless possibilities will stay with them for years to come and always remember that every great idea started with a simple thought. Every struggle is just an opportunity for us to improve.”

2015-2016 Facilities Projects

In preparation for the implementation of our school’s Hydroponics Program with the installation of our rooftop area’s enclosure, we have studied, reviewed and revised what performance areas needed our attention in order to maximize the deployment of our hydroponics program.
The areas that were identified and chosen to be addressed were:

  • Rooftop Enclosure Project
  • LED Retrofitting Project
  • Solar Array Project

Rooftop Enclosure Project

We have been working for about 24 months in getting the necessary approvals from the City of Pembroke Pines that would allow us to enclose the 5,500SqFt of rooftop space available. This space will house both the Hydroponics Garden and the Students Lounge Area. While in the process of getting these approvals in place, we researched materials and contractors, and finally decided on the product that will be used. We have contacted several contractors that currently fabricate and install this particular membrane, and are about to finalize contract with the one chosen for the task. We expect to begin installation by mid-September of this year, with a projected C.O. [Certificate of Occupancy] issued to us by the City of Pembroke Pines by the third week in November. Since setup of the hydroponics area and the lounge area may take several weeks, we are projecting to have the space fully operational upon the students’ return to classes after the Winter break.

LED Retrofitting Project

When looking for sources of additional revenue to enhance our offerings to our children, there isn’t a lot more that as a company one can do to accomplish this. The only way to find this revenue is by diminishing expenses; unfortunately there aren’t many things that one can cut to accomplish this either. One of two sources that we identified was the lighting use of our school. In the case of a school, lights and A/C use are not uses that can be restricted for obvious reasons; children and adults need good lighting for reading, and we live in Florida where it gets damp and hot. But, we can certainly change the type of light source being utilized. We decided to retrofit the whole school to LED lighting. The proforma of this analysis brought a light savings of over 65% of the electricity used to fill the space with light. During the course of this 2015 summer, we retrofitted all light sources in the school; from the parking lot to the gym, from the administration to the last janitor’s closet.

Solar Array Project

I left this for last because of what it represents to us as an educational entity and community leader. The second source [first one was lighting] was the generation of power. This source option not only allows for us to find those needed funds for program enhancements, but also has a direct impact on the carbon footprint that all of use unfortunately generate in our environment.

The installation of a solar array was the “icing on the cake”. I am proud to share with you that Montessori Academy’s Solar Array is the largest of its type in Pembroke Pines, and one of the largest [if not the largest – not confirmed] in Broward County. We have installed over 600 solar generating panels on top of our lower school building. This energy generation takes advantage of the great solar quality in South Florida, with over 5.5 hours of “excellent sun” to accomplish the generation of DC current enough to [on its own] sustain almost 50% of the school’s regular energy consumption [before the retrofitting of the lighting systems]. Our engineers have calculated that the panel’s DC [direct current as in a battery] energy generation capabilities diminish as the cabling extends to the transformer. To avoid this, we had installed “micro-inverters” [to transform DC current into AC current – what you have coming out of your wall sockets] on each and every one of the panels. Obviously, this generated an additional expense, but the cost-vs-benefit will be noticed in the 5% to 7% additional watts of electricity not been lost to dissipation.

Montessori Academy is at the avant-garde of technological innovation with these projects, focused not only on the enhancement of our offerings, but also as a green-focused entity… Looking to not only serve, but also to “protect” our environment for our children and our children’s children.

Let me take this opportunity to share with you what we envision that our Hydroponics Program will bring to the children at Montessori Academy and beyond.

As you may know from your visits to Epcot Center in Orlando or from your casual reading of material on the internet or books, hydroponics is considered to be the “way of the future” for our food supply production. While a plot of land generates “x” amount of lettuce [for example], the same plot of land in a hydroponics setup will yield ten [10] times the same amount of consumable product, utilizing 10% of the amount of water required by conventional farming, without the depletion of minerals in the soil; without a spec of dirt being utilized.
As Montessorians, we see the world in a somewhat different perspective than many others. We see the world, and teach this to our children, through our eyes and most importantly through tactile experiences. We use “manipulatives” in all stages and areas of learning. Hydroponics bring this to our core subjects. Montessori Academy will be utilizing hydroponics systems [in several variations of it, from pure hydroponics to aeroponics, and at one point in the future culminating with aquaponics] to tie-in not only Montessori core subjects [Math, Language, Sensorial, Practical Life], but also extensions thereof, such as Forecasting, Budgeting, Sales, Marketing, Manufacturing, Production, Collection, etc

Our children will be the “owners” of Montessori Academy Children’s Farm, and with it the responsibilities of “running” a business; manufacturing the systems, forecasting the yields, budgeting for the costs, “selling” the products, marketing the products, harvesting, etc. You may ask “how at such a young age…”, well our preschool students already do germination twice a year [in November they germinate pumpkin seeds, and in March they germinate bean seeds, all as part of their science preschool curriculum… How about a hydroponics garden for them to have at the lower school for them to accomplish this? By the time these preschoolers get to our Elementary program and beyond, they would have not only grasp the concept, but we would like to instill in them a way of life for the future; self-reliance and sufficiency.

We stress the children’s individuality and at the same time their cooperativeness with one another. Learn to do things on you own, and help your younger peers in the process. It is very Montessorian, and it is here at Montessori Academy