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Students put skills to the test in the new Robot Games

By Kamal Lakisic and Saad Qazi

Staff Writers

As the school year comes to a close, a new style of learning is just beginning. The robotics program at Summit Public Schools is seeing a new development under Sherri Taylor, the Robotics course instructor across four Summit campuses.

Throughout the past year, students have been experiencing an in-depth program meant to develop skills in fluently combining programs — EV3 and Python — with machines made out of Legos in order to complete set tasks. This ability is developed over the course, and, by the end of the year, most students will have developed an aptitude for robotics.

“I think it’s really important that students have the opportunity to use their whole self when they learn something,” Ms. Taylor said.

Denali freshman Ibrahim Ayub said students have learned how to program robots using EV3 software, as well as learning other important programming concepts. “We also learned to never give up,” he added.

Beyond individual skills, students also developed abilities critical to their end goals, such as teamwork. “I like how the students have learned to collaborate better and resolve conflicts … and develop empathy and patience for students … they really want to engineer robots,” Ms. Taylor said.

These students don’t just take these skills home. The Robot Games, an inter-school event created by Ms. Taylor, will test the designing, programming and teamwork abilities of each school. Classes will be grouped into teams and put their robots to the test. “It’s kind of like a take-off of the Olympics … students provide a game that other robots could play … another school could actually recreate their game,” she said.

Demos will measure their robots’ efficiency and effectiveness. Points will be gained based off the success of the robot in a certain game and its ability to be emulated by other schools. “Then the original inventors get points, and the students that do it in the second school also get points,” Ms. Taylor said. Exemplifying the idea of teamwork, this new method hopes to accelerate the robotics program and students’ progress.

Students themselves have also weighed their development, a point made clear by Ayub who discussed the benefits of learning through collaboration. “All of our projects involve teamwork … at first me and my partner didn’t work together, but we learned to share work … When one person builds, and the other programs … that helps,” he said.

The Robot Games competition will build over each successive run, allowing schools to improve on their prior years and effectively compete with other schools’ teams. Signifying a major shift in Expeditions’ impact on students, the establishment and development of Robot Games over the next few years will foster a new perspective on learning through collaboration — a method that could better develop interest in engineering and programming in students throughout coming years.

See below for a video on the Robotics course and the Robot Games:

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