There is a new robotics club at the Linden STEAM Academy. “The Robotics Club first originated from the student interest” stated Christopher Mooney, advisor of the club along with Ms. Degelmann. “Many students asked [him] and Ms. Degelmann why there wasn’t a Robotics Club at Linden.”
The reason why there was not a robotics club before was that they didn’t have the equipment. Now with the new equipment, they had obtained, the Robotics Club came to life.
In the robotics club, Mooney and Degelmann encourage the students to be as independent as possible. As well as encouraging the students, they provide the students with challenges that have restrictions and criteria to follow. Mooney and Degelmann leave the students to plan, learn and solve the problem with each other. But, they are there to answer questions and help guide groups if necessary.
In the robotics club, the students are split up into two groups, fourth grade and fifth through eighth grade. The fourth graders work with Laura Degelmann, a kindergarten teacher. They spend the first few meetings learning how to use the app Blocky to code Dash robots. They work with Dash robots which move, light up, play noises, and perform several different tasks. The fifth through eighth graders works with Mooney and Vex robotics equipment.
“The first few sessions are focused on learning the equipment parts and their functions. Around the third meeting, students start working on the final Robotics Club challenge.”
In the final challenge, a fourth-grade group and a fifth through eighth-grade group compete against each other in an obstacle course. In the challenge, each group must navigate their Dash robots through the obstacle course. By the end, the Dash launches nine ping pong balls into a pen where the Vex robots, that were built by the middle schoolers, collects them. “[The] teams are awarded points for being the fastest through the maze, points for balls collected, and “style” points for making the Dash robot do different things.”
Though the club is new to Linden this year, it has already benefited the students in so many ways. Such as, learning how to persevere through challenges given to them, dedication to solving challenges with communication and collaboration, and the feeling of pride once they accomplish their challenge.
The robotics club also get students “excited to share what they have done with others,” with the student’s families attending the final meeting where they saw the final challenge. “[They] had a great turnout from families from Session 1, and hope to have the same at the conclusion of Session 2,” Mooney further explained.
Given that this is the first year of the robotics club at Linden, Mooney and Degelmann made it the “pilot year” to see how the club would be and how many student would sign up for it. Because of this, the robotics club is scheduled for only three sessions this year. Both sessions meet for seven Mondays with at least thirty student attendees. “So far between Sessions 1 and 2, 60 students have participated in Robotics Club.”
When asked about the future of LSA Robotics Club, Mooney and Degelmann had replied “[they] hope it will continue to some degree beyond this school year” nevertheless “[they] are not 100% sure of what the format of the club will look like, but [they] hope to eventually mold the program towards competing in robotics competitions.”