By Patricia Tyrell
Successful Pilot Plans to Expand
Using very similar technology to that used by scientists in NASA’s Mars Rover program, some of Franklin’s youth have recently found out just how cool robotics technology can be through a six-week robotics program pilot. Describing the recently concluded after-school program, leader and mechatronics professional, Steve Cox exudes enthusiasm, emphasizing the impact robotics and other science and technology programs can have on our students.
With funding from the Franklin Community Education Foundation (FCEF), and in collaboration with Franklin Central School, the Franklin Robotics Club formed in October 2015. Six Lego EV3 Robotics Kits, each costing $400, were distributed to six two-person teams made up of students in grades 5-10. Weekly challenges were dispensed, encouraging club members to work together and problem-solve autonomously.
In fact, one rule of the Robotics Club is if team members cannot figure something out, they must ask two team members within the group for help before turning to Steve for assistance. This rule was so empowering, Steve states, that eventually “I found myself standing there watching the teams figure things out all by themselves… It was teamwork at its finest.”
Ultimately, each team programmed their robots to perform a variety of specific motion commands, which were demonstrated to board members and visitors at January’s FCEF meeting.
During the demonstration, participating students also expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the program. They were selected from a larger group of twenty-four, due to the program being a first-time venture and to the limited number of robotics kits available. Steve hopes that, with the success of the pilot and with added support from the community, the Robotics Club will not only continue into the future, but expand to “include whomever wants to attend, learn and have fun.”
Access to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) programs provides youth with tangible experience and actual skills that can change and propel the professional trajectory of participating students – and if you ask Steve, of society as well. Stating that “all it takes to start positive change is to be involved,” Steve believes offering Franklin’s younger generations educational opportunities otherwise unavailable to them is also offering a better future for us all.
To learn more about the Franklin Robotics Club, please contact Steve Cox at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn about other programs supported by, or in part by, the Franklin Community Education Foundation, or how to donate, please visit: Franklin Community Educational Foundation.