By Shannon Mann
Three Neuse Charter School intermediate academy students are part of something new in Johnston County, and they’re bringing their cougar prowess for learning to it.
Ava Cummings, Bhakti Patel and Sydney Matisoff are founding members of the only all-girl FIRST Lego League robotics team in the area. Earlier this year, this group of 7th graders joined with two other girls from different schools to form the Techno Tigresses, FLL Team #44406.
This new team makes the 6th competitive FLL team in the county with Neuse Charter starting the county’s first FLL team in 2016 and helping to mentor the others that have followed.
As the Techno Tigresses prepare for their rookie season, Cummings, Patel and Matisoff bring what they’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to their interaction with the team.
At a recent meeting the team worked on processes for decision-making. The NCS students applied principles of Paideia to lead the post-activity discussion for a team challenge.
“We all sit in a circle and give our opinions,” said Matisoff, team lead for marketing. “It’s a polite argument and a way to solve problems.”
Paideia was implemented at NCS during the 2018-2019 school year and it advocates for an active-learning environment.
“We use it in our classes in small teams to come up with ideas and decisions,” Patel, who leads the team in project research, said. “It’s kind of like a friendly debate.”
As the five girls worked through an interactive challenge meant to build cohesion and creativity, the NCS students’ Paideia training helped them lead the other team members in a conversation meant to spur critical thinking and better communication for how to improve the next time.
The team agreed to adopt the Paideia method as one of their primary communication tools going forward.
“I think this concept helps the team make important decisions in a good fashion,” said Nolte, a 7th grader at Southside Christian and team lead for core values. “This will help us at competition so that we can all hear each other’s ideas and so that everyone’s voice is heard.”
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