I, robotics: Students earn awards

January 2019 Posted in Community, School

Mt. Angel Middle School VEX IQ Robotics at the recent competition. Melissa Wagoner

By Melissa Wagoner

Robotics isn’t just a fun, extracurricular activity for kids; it also prepares them for a career in the growing tech industry, according to Stacy Boost, a head coach of Mt. Angel Middle School’s VEX IQ Robotics program.

“There is such a push for our tech jobs, businesses and corporations to have the employee base to reflect the community base,” Boost explained. “We are in need of a more diverse group of people in such great positions. We are raising just that here at Mt. Angel Middle School.”

Boost, who is a sixth grade teacher in math, science and robotics, has coached robotics teams for the past 16 years – eight in Mount Angel and eight at Butte Creek Elementary. Upon her return to Mt. Angel Middle School this year – only blocks from her home – she has begun mentorship of the eight elementary aged VEX IQ Robotics teams and one middle school level VEX EDR team.

“VEX IQ Robotics is a program where students in grades three through nine build robots that have a ‘brain’ which is programmed on a computer, then downloaded,” Boost said. “Students design and build robots, program them, and try to score as many points as possible. Their challenge is on a four foot by eight foot board with field elements.”

Already this year one of Boost’s teams, The Ravens, won the Excellence Award as well as the Teamwork Champion award at the Next Level Robotics Tournament held at St. Mary’s Public School on Dec. 15. The awards qualified the team to attend the State Championship as well as the CREATE US Open in Council Bluffs, Iowa
in April.

“Our teams brought home more awards than ever before,” Boost said. “I could not be more proud.”

Although winning awards is a motivating part of the program, Boost said the real rewards are in the skills the students gain.

“The children are learning to work together in teams to solve problems, to take on challenges, to use computer programming, structural skills, mechanical skills, strategic planning, teamwork, research, time management, project management and handling things not going the way that they were planned or designed to do,” Boost said. “They have to present themselves and their team to judges, perform in front of an audience, meet other people doing the same challenges and then take on the challenges together. They are ambassadors of our school and town.”

Although rewarding, organizing a robotics program the size of the one in Mt. Angel can be a challenge, both physically and financially. Boost and fellow coach Katie Iverson are always looking for volunteers and financial help.

“We are looking for people/companies/businesses/etc. who would be willing to help us financially be able to grow this program as well as to give the children the opportunity to travel to the tournaments that they have earned a spot in,” Boost said. “If any of our teams compete at a level which earns them a spot at Worlds, that is also an opportunity that I believe would be incredible for them to attend.”

For Boost, one of the numerous benefits of the robotics program is the chance her students get to travel to competitions and meet other teams from around the world.

“To see children from all ends of the earth competing with the same materials, challenges, rules… to work together to accomplish a task, to laugh, smile is the most uplifting and joy filled experience,” she said. “To hear so many languages, so many hard-working children, so many proud and attentive adults… to see a parade of nations including people who will be leading our world is something to leave one speechless. I found myself so overwhelmed with pride, hope, joy, and affirmation that this is what we are supposed to be doing.”

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.