By Preston Frazier / April 12, 2018

A day in the life of a first-year robotics teacher

“We have this other position that we haven’t filled yet. It’s a technology class that incorporates programming and robotics and basically all of those things you have talked about. Is this something you might have interest in?” asked the superintendent. “Absolutely!” replied Joe. From this point on, I guess you can say the rest is history.

For some educators, starting up a brand-new robotics course can be rather daunting. But not for one of our 2018 Pitsco TAG teachers, Joe Slifka.

Working Together to Make It Happen

I recently caught up with Joe. Hes working tirelessly to implement a robotics course for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year at LaBrae High School. “My class has been helping prepare lessons and projects for the official rollout,” he said. “I truly appreciate the fact that our administration has been so flexible in allowing me to work with our new robotic kits.” 


Joe is also relying heavily on his students for the process and is working with one of his technology classes. “I have plans to incorporate some building projects with our after-school robotics club as well,” he added.

As with starting anything brand-new, theres bit of a learning curve. The first experiences with the TETRIX® MAX R/C Class Pack are much like a test run. Its a trial-and-error process for both Joe and his students. “We’re just trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t.” What a great example of using the engineering design loop!

Let Students Lead the Way

That being said, the trial-and-error process has led to some awesome discoveries in Slifka’s classroom. One notable moment came during the design of a project to test how much weight a servo motor could lift in a forklift-type build. Joe asked the class to design the project, and one young lady came up with the following.


You and your group members have just robbed a bank and need to load up the barrels of money (small containers filled with varying amounts of washers), but you don’t know what barrel you should make a getaway with. Make a data sheet that logs and records all the information needed for the project.

“With her permission, I plan to absolutely use this scenario in next year’s class!” Joe said. He encourages his students to think outside the box. Great ideas can come from empowering your students!

Make It Fun!

Joe also found the time this year to have a little fun. After getting some robots built, his class wanted to show them off (of course!), so they drove them around the school, getting attention from everyone as they went by. After that, Joe decided to drive into our Engineering Mobile Robotics curriculum. The class has completed four of the activities so far: Run the Maze; Wave the Flag; Flex Your Muscles; and Getting Stronger. They’ll also be starting the Ping-Pong Ball Smasher activity within the next couple of weeks.


As you can see, TETRIX robotics enables flexibility in the classroom and assists with making a first-time robotics course feel less intimidating. In addition, you can have fun with it! “Im quite pleased with not only the durability of the TETRIX kits, but how much potential they seem to have,” Joe offered. He loves that it’s adaptable to other platforms that the middle school is using and understands TETRIX takes it to another level. As Joe is finalizing the final details of his upcoming semester-long courses, one thing is certain: TETRIX is in the plans! 

“Im anticipating that as word gets out about the amazing things happening in our class and in our after-school club, RoboVikes, that both groups will grow, and we’ll be ordering more TETRIX MAX kits!” he shared. “Im really looking forward to working closely with Pitsco and contributing feedback, lessons, and build projects as a TAG member.”

Cheers to you for what you do to help your learners succeed, Joe. We look forward to working closely with you and other teachers too!


TOPICS: IN THE CLASSROOM, ROBOTICS, Collaborations, Technology, STEM, Engineering, Coding, Activities, Future Ready

Preston Frazier

Written by Preston Frazier

Hi all! I’m one of Pitsco’s educational account representatives and have the pleasure of serving the Midwest. I travel quite a bit visiting with teachers, and presenting at workshops whenever I have the opportunity to do so. I’m an alum of the University of Missouri and Pittsburg State University and a supporter of our Big Brothers Big Sisters local chapter. I love traveling, going to sporting events, and hanging out with my wife and daughter whenever possible.