How to Build a LEGO Robotics Team

By Shelly Browne


Take several homeschooled boys, aged 10–14, add a pile of LEGO bricks, a robot, and a challenge to solve, and you get a LEGO robotics team! Our organization, ARCHERS for the Lord, Inc. (The Association of Relaxed Christian Home Educators), decided to participate this past year. During our first year of participation in FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) LEGO robotics, we built the game set in the basement of one of our leaders and used her kitchen for filming a video about the research project.

The FIRST LEGO robotics program emphasizes teamwork, innovation, and courteous professionalism in their worldwide competitions. The program kicks off in August with the announcement of the theme for the year. Past themes have included bone cancer and alternative energy. This year’s team was “The Food Factor,” and all projects were to focus on food safety. Each team works together to build a robot that moves and lifts objects with handheld robot controllers. There is a series of competitions, although a team doesn’t have to be part of the actual competition process. In fact, there are even ways to participate with just your own family; however, we found that the learning process the boys experienced as part of a group was well worth the additional organizational work on the part of the parents.

One Wednesday afternoon, the boys met around a homemade plywood table, and each chose a piece of the setup to build: rat traps, cold storage trailers, cows, a giant sink to wash germs in, and towers holding bacteria and viruses for the LEGO robot to contain. Their challenge was to remove food-borne illness and contaminants from farm, trucking, and fishing industries and to get the food safely to the table within two and a half minutes, using the robot they would build.      (more…)

College at Home 101

By Alyssa Mulhearn


Bachelor’s degree is a term that, for many, conjures ideas of financial security, job opportunities, and a road to success. It’s the $60,000-plus price tag and four years that make people wonder if it’s really worth it.

As homeschoolers, you already realize that education is not confined to a classroom. “Distance education” and “online learning” have become viable, popular options in post-secondary education. So, how can you make these new technological education tools work for you?

The first two years of a bachelor’s degree are typically dedicated to general education requirements. These are courses that cover the basic educational building blocks: math, English, history, science, etc. High school graduates have already studied these courses. What if you could prove you already know the information by passing a test, like a final exam, and get college credit for it? The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST) offer you just that opportunity.

The College Board, the organization that brought us theSAT, has also created CLEP exams. A CLEP test is essentially a final exam for one of the thirty-three different subjects offered. When you pass one of their multiple-choice exams, College Board awards you the same amount of credit as if you had taken the entire course. In exchange for $80 and taking one 90-minute exam, you can earn three to twelve credits that are accepted at more than 2,900 colleges.      (more…)

Does Homeschooling Leave You Stuck at Home?

Homeschooling can offer your kids a myriad of educational life experiences.

The Basics:[1]
Over 1.5 million kids
Or 3% of all kids
Are homeschooled.

84% received all education at home[1]
11% go to school <9 hours a week
5% go to school from 9-25 hours a week

But that doesn’t mean they’re trapped at home.
They’re busy doing some cool things.

Reasons for homeschooling:[1]
36% Religious or moral instruction
21% Concern about school environment (safety, drugs, negative peer pressure)
17% dissatisfaction with academic instruction
14% Other reasons (family time, finances, travel, distance)
7% Want to provide a non-traditional approach to education
6% health problems or special needs

In general homeschooled kids are smart:      (more…)