Innovators - Sherrie Gemmell

Grades 4-12 | Technology Skills | Robots

Sherrie Gemmell is the librarian/media specialist at Sacred Heart High School in Connecticut. She uses programs like SAM Labs, StudioWeb and Wonder Workshop to expand technology skills in her school.

We just started using SAM Labs two weeks ago. When I took it out of the box, students were immediately interested and had put things together before I even looked at it. The blocks’ ease of use makes it a great solution for a library or makerspace. That is primarily what I am using it for at this point. Hopefully, we will be able to buy some more kits and our science department will get to use them in traditional classes.

I intend to move kids towards robotics, to provide outlets for them for engineering on a high school level, and to introduce what they might experience if they were working in an engineering field.

I was surprised on that first day; I literally took the SAM Lab out of the box and set it on the table, and I came back and the kids had built this moving platform that beeped. I looked at them and I said, “How did you do that?” They said, “We’re not really sure, we just put these together and figured out how it worked!” Within a half hour, the students were building all sorts of moving vehicles, and that really speaks to how the products are built easy for students to use. The ease to use the components really helps; I didn’t have to sit down and teach them how to use it. Promoting creativity was my purpose in getting those products, so I was really pleased. The students’ reactions have been very positive.

Most of what the students built were moving objects, like little carts and carriers. They drove them to accomplish different tasks, like picking something up and carrying it to a different location. The students were really enthused about the sounds they could program. They would drive a car and ring a doorbell. Initially, I could really see how the students were creating and modifying their vehicles and having fun with it. Then I realized they were learning without really knowing it.

What I especially like about SAM Labs in our school is that it is attracting a lot of interest from female students. There are a lot of girls building vehicles and using the lab. I like that the Sam Lab is a tool to build our female students’ interest in engineering and coding.

I am hoping SAM Labs will bridge students into StudioWeb, which teaches coding that in turn will foster an interest in coding. StudioWeb is such a well-timed course for our students because much of the world communication and many jobs are technology driven. Personally, I wanted to bring in some products that would stimulate interest in the tech field. Both SAM Labs and StudioWeb have been excellent products for that, and I’ve seen positive results in our library.

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