Introduction to GISE and GEMS

This program is for students who are interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math using team-based, hands-on projects.  It is open to fourth through eighth grade students who are willing to participate in a team with once or twice-weekly practices (from 1.5 - 3 hours total per week) and 3 weekend tournaments during the September-May season, and do homework including research, interviews and “engineering design”.   Meetings are held at the school or in coach’s home.  Students that have meetings in a coach’s home will be allowed to change their bus schedule to be picked up at that home (if the meeting is before school) or get dropped off there (if the meeting is after school)

GISE and GEMS are made up of 2 “semesters”.  The first semester is FIRST Lego League (Robotics and Research) running from September to January.  The second semester has a different engineering mission each year and runs from January to May.

1st Semester: FIRST Lego League (FLL)

FLL is a competitive educational program that combines robot building, computer programming, research learning and presenting) about science, technology, engineering and math. As part of the challenge, kids work in teams to build and program Lego Mindstorms robots that will perform a variety of assigned tasks. Each team also researches a topic centered on the year’s theme, designs an invention and creates a presentation. The teams participate in regional tournaments where they present their research to judges and compete with their robots in timed runs.

At the tournament teams are scored on 4 areas:

1)             Research on their project and design of an "Innovative Solution" (detailed conceptual design only, physical rendition is not necessary), this year related to “Senior Solutions”

2)             Technical Building and Programming of the Lego NXT ‘robot’

3)             How well the ‘robot’ completes any (or all) of the 8 to 10 ‘missions’ at the tournament

4)             Teamwork and respect for each other 


A bit more about the Research and Innovative Solution Project: The Project includes research of problems within the theme, identifying a specific problem with your team researching what is being done and by whom and then proposing and designing a solution to that problem.  This Project needs to be described to judges at the competition in the form of a 5 minute presentation.  

A bit more about the Robotics:  FLL provides a document of “missions” in which a student designed and programmed robots does specific tasks on a table of objects i.e. their robot may have to get an object from a position on the table and return it to “base”.  

The FLL website is a great reference when you have questions.  The judging rubrics and the Complete Challenge Guide are good references as well.

Note that meetings are best spent on the robotics portion -since this can’t be done at home and kids rally like it - so the research portion is best managed as homework assignments and additional parent volunteer-led meetings.  Families and volunteers will need to help the students and his/her team complete the 'Project' portion outside of the GEMS class. 

We also will hold a LHCS tournament, which will require volunteers. 

Lego League at used to be 100% teacher run, however due to the growing program 3 teams will be parent coached this year. The number of teams LHCS can field depends on the number of kids and volunteers. Teams will be limited to 5-7 members.

Thanks to the Minneapolis District and the LHCS PTA, which provides a significant amount of funding for the program, the cost to participate is kept low ($50 per participant).

2nd Semester: Engineering

From February through May, GEMS/GISE/STEM students will have an opportunity to explore Engineering Design Principals while they construct and use engineering equipment and components.  There is a 3 year rotation of rockets, dragster (carbon dioxide or other powered) cars or electrical circuitry.  Each of these units end with a tournament where the students can showcase their work.  2015 will be Rocketry.

For example: During the Dragster Year, GEMS/GISE/STEM students have an opportunity to explore Engineering Design, Newton’s Laws of Motion, acceleration, various propulsion systems, scaled drawing, prototyping, and testing while developing solutions to several design challenges.  Activities introduce design, science, and mathematics principles and include experiences utilizing balloon, battery, rubber band, and solar powered racers. The culminating experience is the CO2 Dragster Tournament where students test their dragster designs, race against the clock, and other dragsters on an official CO2 dragster track.