WATERBURY, Conn. — On Wednesday afternoons, when their teachers are engaged in professional development, Michael Wallace Middle School in Waterbury dismisses its students early, which can lead to children being left at home alone. But now, there is another option.
Wallace Middle School's Academic Academy created an opportunity to keep students in school on Wednesday afternoons for homework help, and other fun, valuable educational opportunities.
Waterbury's Wallace Middle School is the only one of the three middle schools in the city that has fourth and fifth graders. So, they're taking advantage of that.
"They're learning Legos and Lego robotics, coding, problem-solving skills and we have a few seventh and eighth-grade students that are serving as mentors," said Vincent Balsamo, Principal of Wallace Middle School.
"I get my homework done and then we build with Legos," said Fahren Tunstall, a 5th grader. "We can create different things and they are really cool once they are completed."
What's cool is how the students can essentially make the Legos come to life.
"So students go onto an app on their Chromebook, they decide what they want to build, the app gives them step-by-step directions for building and then once they've built the actual Lego piece they go into a coding stage," said fifth-grade teacher Annie Minton.
The coding process is meant to tell their robot what to do. And the seventh and eighth-grade mentors love the role they play.
"It improves my social skills by talking to more people," said Milo Moffett, an 8th-grade mentor. "It's also really fun because I always like little kids."
And, for being mentors, the seventh and eighth-grade students receive incentives, including training in CPR, AED, and first aid, as well as babysitting basics.
The goal of this program is to have today's fourth and fifth graders become the mentors of the future.
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