New iPads powered Roan robots

·2 min read

Jun. 10—Roan School students were able to spend the final few months of this school year coding robots thanks to 10 new iPads, which the school obtained courtesy of a donation from Chad Painter Insurance.

"We learn more about coding, and it's fun," said fifth-grader Erick Silva. "You get to make the robot do what you want it to do."

Roan had "robots for every age, from prekindergarten through fifth grade, (but) the robots have to have an app to run, so we really needed the iPads," said Jerre Leonard, paraprofessional in the I-Lab, where the new iPads were stationed. "We got the iPads in December, but we had to get the apps put on them, so we've been using them" for the balance of the second semester.

The iPads are also "great for kids who don't have computers," said fifth-grader Kamea Goodlett. "We learn more and explore different places."

She also values the elevated technology of iPads over traditional pencil-and-paper work, she said: "It's more personal."

Students "want to do what we're doing in the I-Lab, (because) it's engaging," Leonard said. In the I-Lab, an innovative Maker Space that helps prepare students for future careers with coding, robotics and 3-D printing, "the 'I' stands for 'innovation,' so we're going to do something new and different every time we're in there."

"We focus a lot on tech and engineering, planting the seed for future careers," she said. "There are a lot of jobs out there" in those fields.

"I know everything is moving toward tech, so it's great these students can get a head start," Painter said. "This makes learning fun for them, too, and to me, that's amazing."

Painter's agency received $500 from State Farm to donate however he wished, and he provided another $1,500, he said. "Our office is near here, and my wife, Kim, used to be a teacher at Roan," so he called the school's principal, Charlie Tripp, to see if the school could use some extra money.

"I had no idea what (Tripp) was going to do with it, but this is great, and I'm so glad we could help," Painter said. "The last year has been a tough time for everybody" with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the I-Lab, which students rotate through as a "special" just like art, music and physical education, every student has a chance to use the new iPads.

"We're so grateful," Leonard said. "We try to expose them to anything that can enhance their learning and encourage even more learning."