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St. Mary’s students take a leap in robotics program
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Jul 16, 2012 | 1168 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BISD students hold up their trophies – robots they made themselves during the new robotics initiative program. The program is part of the ACE-21st Century Grant that provides after school and summer programming for Beeville and St. Mary’s school districts. About 130 students were involved in the robotics program this summer.
BISD students hold up their trophies – robots they made themselves during the new robotics initiative program. The program is part of the ACE-21st Century Grant that provides after school and summer programming for Beeville and St. Mary’s school districts. About 130 students were involved in the robotics program this summer.
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June and July were packed with activity for St. Mary’s and Beeville ISD students. One of the popular programs was the new robotics initiative.

As part of the ACE-21st Century Grant, that provides after school and summer programming to almost 1,200 students in the Beeville ISD and St. Mary’s school districts, robotics have come to Beeville in a big way.

According to Stan Simonson, superintendent of St. Mary’s, “The kids love the robotics program. Hands-on learning is key to getting students involved in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) careers.”

All Beeville ACE students in grades 3-12 had an opportunity to participate in the summer robotics program. In all, about 130 students were involved in a robotics class this summer.

St. Mary’s is in its fourth year of robotics, but, this year, the school really stepped up its game. Moving away from the Lego robot kits and the Lego Mindstorm robots, the students now build their own prototypes. Now they are working with electronics, circuitry and programming.

Leonard Scott, associate computer information technology professor from Coastal Bend College, worked with 60 St. Mary’s students on robotics throughout the summer program. He commented that the students enjoyed the entire program, but the electronics and soldering circuit boards were especially cool.

Mrs. Davila, an adjunct professor at CBC, taught the robotics courses at the Moreno SPACE program. She raved about how good the children were and how engaged and interested in the material they were. Working with 3rd through 7th graders was a challenge for Davila. “This year, since the program was new, we started everyone off with the basics of robotics, which is the mechanical. Some students advanced rapidly, others were enjoying the building and construction aspects of robotics. All I know is that next year, I am going to have to step up my game for the returning students.”

According to Becky Simonson, CBC computer science professor, Davila is not kidding. “She will be challenged to stay ahead of the students.” Simonson explained that the robotics curriculum is based on the concept of mechtronics and programming. Mechtronics is the hybrid of mechanics, mechanical engineering, electronics, electrical engineering and programming.

Miss Simonson teaches COSC1309 Introduction to Logic, which uses robotics as a tool to teach computer logic. The course is an introductory course and requires no prerequisites. According to Miss Simonson, the students have a group of objectives to meet and then are free to explore at their own pace.

“This summer, I had to purchase a second level of humanoid robot for a group of my students,” she said. “They built the first one and got it working and were ready to move on.” The second robotic kit is the type used in advanced university programs.

The robotics program is a program of study offered at CBC. The students from St. Mary’s and Beeville ISD, upon entering high school can obtain a Level 1 computer programming certificate based on the robotics curriculum.

The robotics curriculum will continue at the ACE Centers throughout Beeville. If your child is interested in learning more about robotics and having fun be sure to enroll them in the ACE program. For more information, contact the ACE Central office at 362-6010.
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