“Anybody else need duct tape?” Cyndi Carpenter checks on her Robotics Class groups as they work to make a robotic hand with straws, cardboard, tape, paper clips and string. Their mission is to build a hand that can pick up and hold a tennis ball, a ping pong ball and a cork. It’s all “hands on” with this class that explores the engineering design process. Mrs. Carpenter doesn’t show them the directions so that the students can plan and construct their own machines. They design, build, test and refine. The high school students are clearly excited and competitive as they race to see who will build the first successful hand.
In Mrs. Carpenter’s STEM Class, there’s a little competition going on as well. Each team of students is given a NanoBug and the mission is to design a maze that the bug can navigate in the least amount of time. Each maze must contain an entrance, exit, 2 right angles, a hill, a tunnel, and a loop. One student plans to decorate his maze like a theme park with a T Rex on the hill! North East Carolina Prep students are very excited to have Cyndi Carpenter as their teacher and Mrs. Carpenter is happy to be teaching them. The 30 year National Board Certified veteran says, “I’ve never been so happy to be in a classroom in my life!” In fact, she met many of her current students when they were a part of the ASCENT Program that she taught last spring. In addition to the Robotics and STEM classes, Mrs. Carpenter also teaches Earth and Environmental Science at NECP.
This dedicated teacher has big plans for her Robotics and STEM students this year. She starts class by telling them about her “amazing idea” to take them to NC State’s Centennial Campus in the spring to visit their Civil Fabrication Lab, part of the College of Engineering, and the new James B. Hunt Library. Then she rotates between the groups asking questions like, “Why did this not work?” and “What do you need to add?” Mrs. Carpenter is glad she’s extended her long career as an educator and her students are too.