Video games and sound waves: Old Colony students teach robotics to local 6th graders

Video games and sound waves: Old Colony students teach robotics to local 6th graders

Mataboist – On the morning of November 1, sixth graders at Hammondtown Elementary School left their desks and notebooks behind and went to play with the robots.

They took part in a robotics course for beginners, led by high school students from the robotics class at Old Colony Regional Technical Vocational High School.

Students there organized various technical workshops for sixth graders, which included lessons in video games, sound wave measurement, and a robotics obstacle course.

“This is a good way for us to energize students, teach them technology, and deliver what their education could look like in the future,” said Dan Burch, an electronics engineering teacher at the Old Colony.

Brush described the Old Colony’s robotics program as “robust,” adding that he sees students go to work at Woods Hole Institution of Oceanography and join programs at Wentworth and The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

In addition to the robotics class, the school also has a club, where students can “message” with robots “just as they would in any other sport, such as soccer or track.”

“It looks great on your resume,” Brach said.

Brush organized this program jointly with Lisa Lourenco, a sixth grade teacher in Old Hammondtown. They put the program in place two years before the pandemic, and this is the first year they have been able to bring it back since 2019.

“Our children are only by their side,” Lourenco said of the sixth graders. “They were pumped to see these things.”

Sixth graders entered the gym that morning, quickly huddled around a video game console programmed by Old Colony students Mason Ventura and Ben Demers.

Ventura and Demers showed sixth graders how they could emulate old video games, such as those made for the Atari or the Nintendo Entertainment System.

“It can’t handle anything that’s made newer than the PlayStation 2,” Ventura said.

He said most of what they do every day is “trial and error” and it’s “90% wrong.”

For example, he explained that the whole system crashed a few days ago, and they had to delete everything and start the program all over again.

“It’s the way you learn,” Ventura added.

After the demonstration, the children took turns playing Donkey Kong.

Cole Ashley, a second-year student in robotics, demonstrated a robot he programmed that basically works like a remote control car.

“It’s built for speed,” he said, reviewing the blockchain programming on his computer.

“We’re going to have the kids catch a ball with this robot,” he said, pointing to a robot with a giant claw. Then the kids will go through a path full of obstacles to get it back.

Ashley said robotics students at the Old Colony also compete in the so-called Spin Up Challenge, where there are different challenges and kids can win prizes.

“We have won three so far,” he said.

Ashley says he plans to send messages in robotics when he’s old.

“I love being here with my friends and working on robots together. Overall, it’s really fun.”

After the activities, all 6th graders received certificates to participate in the “Academy of Micro Robots”. Certificates are designed and printed by Old Colony students in the graphics program.

“[Old Colony students] Brash said.

After the demonstration, Lourenco asked her students to provide feedback on the program.

“I asked them if they enjoyed it, and the answer was a definitive yes,” she said.

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