Robotics, as defined by the Cambridge Dictionary, is the science of designing and operating robots. With technology constantly on the rise, robotics continues to advance. Robots are used today in the military, as well as even domestically and commercially. The future of robots is bright and it is important for the future generations of leaders in this country to understand how they work. The study of robotics encourages students to explore the world of science and technology, as well as engineering and math. These innovative robotics programs help children to build important life skills and peak interests in pursuing careers in these areas of study.
Here at The Rising School, we have implemented both curriculum courses as well as after school programs to educate our students about robotics, why it is important, and what benefits it has to our world. This year, students were introduced to the basic elements of robotics including basic programming and the use of Arduino kits, making simple circuits and conceptualizing how they could be applied in other projects. In the upcoming 2016-2017 school year, we will be entering into competitive robotics though the FIRST Robotics program. FIRST, or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is the “leading, not-for-profit STEM engagement program for kids worldwide,” and has four levels of competition: FIRST Lego League Jr., FIRST Lego League, FIRST Tech Challenge, and FIRST Robotics Competition.
The Lego League Jr. competition is designed for kids ages 6-9 and focuses primarily on introducing STEM concepts – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math through the use of the popular childrens toys, Legos. In addition, the kids are introduced to the core values in the Lego League Jr. competition: respect, sharing, and critical thinking. The Lego League, designed for kids ages 9-14, involves designing and building a robot to compete and be presented to a panel of judges. This competition promotes team-building and critical thinking skills. For the older kids, in grades 7-12, the Tech Challenge not only involves designing, building, programing and operating robots, but also requires teams to raise funds, design and promote their own team brand, and also involves community outreach work. All of the hard work learned in the various stages of robotics can be demonstrated in the FIRST Robotics Competition in which teams will have six-weeks to create robots to compete in a difficult field game.
In order for these programs to be successful, there must be funding. Our children will be participating in fundraising events to raise money for the robotics program at The Rising School, but help from donors and sponsors will be very important to keep this program afloat. If you are interested in donating or becoming a sponsor, please contact Erik Hertwig at The Rising School, (520) 730-2657.