Wednesday, October 16, 2019

High School Robotics Class Prepares Students for Careers and More

RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ7)— Radford City Schools continue to expand their robotics and STEM classes throughout the district. Now, thanks to another $50,000 grant, their students are more prepared for technology-driven careers and real-life collaboration after high school.

It might look like fun and games, but even the crashing is part of the robotics classes at Radford High School.

“We’ve ended up being able to promote some really good 21st century opportunities in robotics,” said Superintendent Rob Graham.

The students are now being exposed to coding as early as kindergarten, and intermediate students are taking a full course to prepare for robotics classes.
“We’ve started our middle school students who are interested in that so they can move on and become part of that robotics team and continue to have the good successes that we’ve already seen,” Graham said.

The course for middle school students started this academic year.

Robotics has been part of the school’s curriculum for about three years now. Each year, they were able to obtain this grant that promotes Virginia’s 5 C’s: critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, communication and citizenship. Graham said they have studied other robotics programs around the world to figure out what is best for Radford’s students because of these grants.
Graham said the foundation of this knowledge needs to start as early as possible. That’s why they have been so competitive with other area teams that have had these types of courses in their curriculum for so long.

“We feel like as students start moving into the high school now that we’ve integrated this and implemented this into the high school and middle school that we’re going to really have a strong program and have a lot of interest,” Graham said.

Each year, the team has gone far. They qualified for state twice.
This year, they have a Star Wars theme and the group plans to design the Death Star. The objective is to use a robot to build a skyscraper with it, but the students said the challenge is getting the blocks to stack on the foundation.

Senior Gavin Lyman is helping to design the arm that will make it possible.
“We need to put a capstone at the top of them in order to get more points, and right now, that’s a little bit hard,” he said.

Although Lyman is designing this feature, it takes everyone to make the magic happen.
“You need to speak with your teammates and actually get things done and know what each person’s doing on the team so you can just keep up with everything,” said senior Micah Collins.
This is a collaboration that helps them get ready for the real world.

“It’s not a test, it’s actually doing these types of things, so our teachers not only here in computer science, but even in math and English and the core subjects, we’re seeing a lot more interaction,” Graham said.

“I just like everything about it. It’s just fun, especially getting with your teammates that you might or might not have been friends with before,” Collins said.
The first competition for the students is on Dec. 7.

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