Keota students get hands-on with new TI-Innovator Rover technology


WILBURTON, OK (Jan. 22, 2018) – Students at Keota Public Schools recently became some of the first in the nation to get their hands on the all-new TI-Innovator™ Rover. The technology is a result of Keota’s participation in the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant program at Eastern Oklahoma State College. Eastern partners with Texas Instruments (TI) to provide innovative technology and professional development for teachers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects.

Rover is a small, robotic car powered by the TI-Nspire™ CX graphing calculator, or the TI-84 Plus CE, which TI also donated through the GEAR UP program in 2013.

Keota High School science teacher John Honeycutt recently led his junior Earth Science students through an activity using Rover to draw a robot with a marker. Honeycutt’s juniors then guided the elementary school’s third grade students through the same drawing.

“The coding is pretty simple, it sends a message to Rover to connect to the calculator, and after that it’s just a series of send codes that tell it forward, turn and reverse,” said junior, Justin Hickman.

Honeycutt said Hickman and classmate Cidnie Long were primarily responsible for designing the robot drawing and coding the calculators to produce the desired result. He said his students were eager and excited to work with the new technology that teaches them that learning to program can be fun and simple to get started.

“There is an adeptness that this particular generation has towards technology,” said Honeycutt. “This handheld – the size of it, the shape of it, the way that it works – it looks and feels very similar to things that my students are comfortable with anyway.”

Honeycutt said in the short term, the elementary students got the satisfaction of watching a device they helped to program draw something. Long term, he believes the drawings will serve as a tangible memento of an exciting moment in the school day that students can pridefully talk about for years to come, elevating their interest in STEM subjects and better preparing them for future careers.

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a federal grant program designed to meet the needs of low-income, underserved and underrepresented students in geographically-isolated, rural schools in six southeastern Oklahoma counties. Eastern was awarded a $12.6 million grant over a seven-year period to serve a cohort of students in 30 partner schools.

Video footage of this event can be viewed on Eastern's YouTube channel.

Keota junior Justin Hickman (right) inspects a TI-Innovator Rover while junior Trevor Doss (back) looks on. Hickman is one of two students primarily responsible for programming the calculator that powers the Rover to draw a robot.

Keota third grade student Kenjie Her (left) watches with fascination as junior Sierra Bishop (left) helps draw a robot using the TI-Innovator Rover.

Keota high school science teacher John Honeycutt explains the all-new TI-Innovator Rover to Keota third graders before pairing them off with his juniors for an exhibition.

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