The Garnew school vibrates with robots

For the past few years, all students at Garneau Elementary School have been doing robotics. If there’s one moment of the week that young people at this school in Montreal’s Center-Sud don’t want to miss, it’s spending time with their robots.

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Mary-Eve Morase

Mary-Eve Morase
The press

“We have a problem, but we’re fixing it.”

Mayeva, a “six-and-a-half-year-old”, just explained that the little dash robot was going to the floor to show how she was programming with a friend and would follow a very specific path, “like an eight-figure, but the opposite.”

It didn’t go as planned. Leaning over their tablets, Mayeva and Mariana noticed that the robot was “not listening” and urged the reporter to return within a few minutes for another demonstration.

Like other students at Garneau School, young children do robotics for about an hour a week. At this school, located in the center-interest district of Montreal, we have chosen this project to bring together students and teachers.

Joel Boudoin explains that the robotics period he does with his students is from 1 per week.D The year is a learning opportunity: you need to measure the distance the robot has to travel, learn how to read programming blocks that tell the robot to rotate sometimes, sometimes back up.

Photo by Martin Tremblay, The Press

Teacher Joel Boudoin, with a student

Young people, the professor says, understand that “there are different ways to reach a goal.”

It will look for students who sometimes do less well. They are attracted to robots, they are beautiful. Every week, they ask me when we’re doing it and when I tell them we don’t have time, they get really frustrated.

Joel Boudoin, Garneau Elementary School Teacher

The first robots were purchased at Garnew School in 2018 as part of a digital action plan set up by Quebec. However, the teacher who set up the project has moved to another school and the robots are “dormant”

Teacher Dennis Gosselin picked up the ball. “I have been interested in it since I was a child. We told ourselves: ‘We’re going to bring these robots back to life,’ explained the man in charge of teacher training.

The principal of the school, Jean-Franসois Laflur, insisted that “everyone get on board”, students and teachers alike.

Photo by Martin Tremblay, The Press

Jean-Franসois Laflur, principal of Garnew Primary School, doing robotics with students

There must be continuity from one level to the next and no student will be left behind. At the highest scale of deprivation in Quebec, Garnew School, “10 out of 10”, the director says.

“We must not hide this, we are in a multinational sector where parents cannot always help their children with household chores,” said Bernard Bajuman, president of the school’s governing board.

According to the Montreal School Service Center, 70% of the students at this school come from the Elphone family.

In the case of robotics, everything is done in school, observes Dennis Gosselin.

Photo by Martin Tremblay, The Press

Dennis Gosselin, a teacher at Garneau Elementary School in Montreal

“I have been teaching here since 2008 and I quickly realized that the children had to be involved. You have to work with them, “explained Mr. Goselin.

Robots … and challenges for children

In 3rd classe In the year of Bruno Vincent, these are the drones that students learn to guide in a course. The machine must go around the box and go under a stick.

Penelope says he likes to operate drones, “telling ourselves we can do it and work as a team,” he explains.

Photo by Martin Tremblay, The Press

In sixth grade, students recently gained access to a 3D printer.

That cooperation of students is precisely one of the objectives.

Each team is made up of a programmer who is going to measure, they have a logbook and they change roles every week.


In a group of students, it’s hard to talk about. “What if the drone boxes are dropped? Asks a student. These drones are not bilingual: how do you say “turn right, but in English?” Asks 9-year-old American.

Photo by Martin Tremblay, The Press

The Dash Robot is one of the robots used at Garnie School.

In all, the school has invested about $ 80,000 in equipment for its project. We now have about ten robots, computers, tablets at each level. Dash, Sparrow and Blue-Bot are getting ready to go back to their boxes for the summer holidays, but one thing is for sure: they won’t be gathering dust for long.

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