SALINEVILLE – Local Southern Elementary 4th and 5th graders put their coding and math skills to use as the school’s robotics teams debut.
Teachers Karen Marquis and Janice Pearce recently started the program, which has 16 members in teams of four students building their own robots to take part in competitions. Marquis, who teaches fifth-grade math and science, said it was a fun learning experience for young people.
We are taking part in the Slapshot competition from VEX IQ. She said. “We received a robot building kit, and it’s for grades 4 to 8. There’s a field where kids play with robots, like air hockey, and there are four buildings with four discs in them. They use their robots to hit and collect discs, and then they get points for each A fallen disc on the field or inside the court.
Marques said there are three parts to the competition, one using robotic arms that can earn one to four points per puck with extra points in another if they develop a robotic arm that goes across the net and gets more discs. The second provides a free-range obstacle field for the bot to maneuver through for bonus points while the third is autonomous and the bot is programmed to run on its own through a set path.
Marquis coaches fourth graders Nate Forbes, Brooklyn Glocer, Brooke Akers, Liam Potts, Grant Ott, Lynn Weston, Silas Compton and Serenity Wallace while Pierce supervises fifth graders Jaymen Maines, Mackenzie Sloan, Maddie Smith, Addisen Boyle, Liam Susak, Keitan Smith, Aubrey Taylor, and Isiah Plunkett. The teams will meet during teacher planning periods and hold a kick-off day featuring Jeff Gill of the Columbiana County Education Services Center, who will discuss programming with the students. The group has been busy putting together their creations for competitions, the first being a county-wide competition in December.
The program has attracted a lot of interest among the students but only a limited number have been selected based on certain criteria. Marquis said members were chosen for their ability to participate and keep up with the math and coding involved in the program.
“Next year we might let kids apply, but we had to limit it this time because we’ll only have four on a team. The kids work in the program using a robot and code for it,” I continued. “The fourth grade classes do coding with dots and dashes while everyone else is doing robotics in the fifth grade.”
Pierce praised the students for their hard work and creativity, saying they are eager to get started.
“I think they did a great job. They put together the robotics base and they wanted to get involved and build the stations. I think we made really good choices for the students because they really have a knack for engineering.”
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