Robots are taking over Hobbton High School. Recently started just this past fall, the after-school robotics club has proven popular and successful, leading to the development of a robotics class.
According to Richard Warren, an alumnus of Hobbton High who now teaches Technology, Engineering, and Design at the school, the robotics class is already included in the list of courses to be offered next year.
“I have already signed up for the class,” shared robotics club member Charles LaRoushe.
Fellow robotics club member Jazmine Oates added that “the class is definitely something I want to be a part of. I think all of us in the club will want to be in the class.”
As Warren and his students look forward to the class, they reflect on the club that, with the assistance of three grants, got it all started.
“We received two Love of Learning grants from Simple Gifts and one grant from the Sampson County Friends of Education,” said Warren, noting that the latter provided funding for one robot. “It would be hard to do all that we have been able to do without these grants. They’ve been very generous. The grants got us here.”
The “here” Warren speaks of is a successful place. Although this was the club’s first year and they had limited time to build a robot, they managed to construct one in time for the Southeastern Regional Technology Student Association (TSA) VEX Robotics Competition held at Clinton High School.
In the robotics competitions, four robots are put into a 12 by 12 box with a variety of bean bags and troughs, explained club member Hope Rogers. The objective is to use your robot to get as many bean bags, which are different colors representing varying numbers of points, as you can into your trough.
Hobbton High’s robotics club competed against teams from five other schools in the regional competition, ultimately earning first place.
After their victory at regionals, they continued on and competed in the state competition, placing 33rd out of 63 teams.
Byron Martinez, a member of the robotics club, admitted that the competitions were “a little intimidating” but that the team is is very pleased with their success.
“The kids had fun; they really enjoyed it and learned a lot,” added Warren.
In addition to participating in competitions, the robotics club also had the opportunity to share their interest with the Sampson County Board of Education when they were invited to the board’s March meeting.
As the board watched, the students maneuvered their robots across the floor and members of the club explained how the robots work and what they are learning by studying robotics.
“They (the board members) wanted to see it. This whole thing, the club, has been an experiment, and the county office has been very supportive of us,” noted Warren.
Warren is thankful for all of the support the venture has received because he can see that the students are benefiting greatly from the club.
“We have about 11 regulars but we have had as many as 16 kids come,” said Warren of the club’s bi-weekly meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
In the club, students construct robots by applying many lessons they have learned in math, science, technology, and engineering. They learn about speed, tension, force, gears, sprockets, wiring, and programming, to name a few, shared Warren. “It is a hands-on oriented way of learning math and science.”
The club is also an outlet for the students’ creativity, added Warren, and it helps them develop leadership, team building, and problem solving skills.
“It is a really good program for students who want to represent their school, especially for those who do not play sports,” Warren noted.
Many of the club members’ interest in robotics stems from their families’ work and interests.
“I have been building stuff my whole life,” said LaRoushe, mentioning that his father works in mechanics.
“All of the men in my family are into mechanics,” Oates added.
No matter how they came to the club, Warren just wants to encourage the students’ interest because it could possibly lead to a promising future in a number of career fields. “Robotics is a great way to prepare kids for 21st century careers.”
Now that the competitions are over and the school year is winding down, the students are disassembling their robots, but continuing to experiment, think up new ideas, and make improvements that will hopefully lead to their robots being even more successful in future competitions.
As they look forward to the robotics class next year, the club has high hopes for the future of robotics at Hobbton.
“More quality tools” is one thing LaRoushe hopes will come next year along with the new class while Rogers would love to see “more people get involved.”
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at email@example.com.