Robotics gaining popularity in CantonBy Guest
Submitted by Della Larson
With support from the Canton Alliance for Public Education as well as a dedicated group of teachers and parents, the Canton Public Schools are becoming actively involved in the field of robotics.
Student involvement in robotics got its start at the Galvin Middle School, where last fall a group of ten students competed in a FIRST Lego League competition at Newton North High School, finishing among the top ten and advancing to the state qualifier at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
FLL is part of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). Students are challenged to strategize, design, build, program and test an autonomous robot using LEGO Mindstorms technology.
FIRST has a mission to “inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.”
In addition to advancing to the qualifier, the Galvin students also received a Strategy and Innovation Award for a unique component on their robot, and they later went on to present at the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) conference at Bridgewater State University.
Thanks to a CAPE grant, the middle school was also able to offer an after-school robotics program, taught by technology/engineering teacher Steve Bauer and math teacher Kathleen Lam. The students designed and built their own Lego robots and then programmed their robots to perform various tasks.
Canton’s interest in robotics was further evident when Canton Academy offered three weeks of robotics enrichment courses this summer, and beginning this fall, the program will be expanded to Canton High School, where students will be given the opportunity to join a FIRST Tech Challenge group. This group will use TETRIX (similar to an erector set) to design and build a robot to compete in challenges. Students could also be eligible for one of the 686 individual scholarship opportunities being offered by FIRST, with a total value of nearly $15 million.
Besides the middle and high school programs, registration is now open for FIRST Lego League teams for anyone ages 9-14. The teams can include up to 10 kids, and parents can coach the team with little to no experience. The structure is flexible so kids can still participate in sports and other activities.
This year’s FLL competition will focus on seniors. The groups will identify a challenge that seniors face in being independent, engaged, and connected. The students will then solve the problem and share their idea. They will also design, build, and program their robot to complete challenges.
If you are interested in learning more about FIRST or in starting a team, please contact Della Larsen at Mtlarsen@msn.com or visit the FIRST website at www.usfirst.org.
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