Dustin McBride, Holton Middle School technology teacher, is shown at left with a group of seventh-grade students as they work to code a robot to travel through the school. Coding, robotics and 3D printing are some of the options available to HMS students in tech courses offered by McBride. Seventh-graders shown with McBride include Kolbie Noel (front) and (back, from left) Jacob Warner, Andrew Keithley and Kylie Carlsen. (Photo by Ali Holcomb)

Holton Middle School students working with robots

Students at Holton Middle School are given hands-on learning opportunities with the latest technology, such as 3D printers, robotics and virtual simulators, as part of the technology classes available at the school.

Dustin McBride, who is in his second year as the technology teacher as HMS, has expanded the tech classes at the school to include some of the latest technology available. 

“I want to introduce them to something and get them interested because when I was in middle and high school, I never knew any of this existed,” McBride said. “All the programs I find for the kids and everything we offer we don’t charge them. I just want them to know what’s out there and, hopefully, they can use it down the road.”

McBride was teaching four-grade at HES when the position as tech teacher opened up at HMS.

“I had several teachers recommend me for it,” he said. “I was always introducing new things into my fourth-grade classroom when this position came up. It was right up my alley. Mr. (Michael) Kimberlin (principal at HMS) gave me free reign.”

A native of Albion, Neb., McBride graduated from The University of Nebraska at Kearney. 

“I spent a lot of late nights in their computer lab because they had the first 3D printer that I had ever seen,” McBride said of UNK. “My whole approach to teaching is that I love when kids get interested. If they are interested in a topic, it just makes it so much better for everyone involved because they want to learn about it, they ask questions and are interested.” 

At the middle school, McBride teaches a base tech class to each sixth, seventh and eighth-grade student.  

“I see half the students in the first semester and half the second semester,” he said. “In sixth grade, we introduce a very basic form of coding and then build on that in seventh grade where they learn Python coding, which transfers into the robot kits.”

In the first few weeks of the technology class, students learn the basics of coding, which is the process of using a programming language to get a computer, or in the students’ case a robot, to behave how they want it to.

McBride said the students are put into small groups to assemble the robots, which include four different motors and at least six sensors.

The students then use their coding skills to program the robots to move and perform certain actions. 

“Our first code was to drive forward 200 millimeters and then play a sound,” he said. “Now they’re programming them to drive around the classroom tables and not hit anything on the way by. We hope to program them to pick up an aluminum pop can in the future.”

For more information on this story, log in to your holtonrecorder.net account, click “E-Editions” and then click on the April 21, 2021 edition.

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