How robotics can build patience and teamwork for kids who love STEM.
Moises Torres remembers loving his Legos as a kid. Now, he gets to play with them again, just like old times.
Torres, a leader at our FYI 505 youth center, has been chosen to run a series of new LEGO Robotics workshops for kids ages 10 to 18. The workshops are the result of a grant from the LEGO Corporation and will afford the FYI team an opportunity to take their final projects to a city-wide FIRST robotics competition next March.
As part of the grant Torres is also receiving three training sessions, something he admits he thought might be a little boring. “I thought it might be a long day. We’re there from 10 to 4. But, the training went by way too fast because I was having too much fun!”
First, the FYI Robotics team will experiment with building different robots from the kits that LEGO is providing. Next, they’ll have to decide on specific “missions,” that their robot will be programmed to accomplish. And, finally, they’ll ask the robot to perform some of those specific tasks on a 3’ x 7’ playing field. Once these “missions,” have been perfected, it will be tournament time.
Torres has been telling team members before the program starts that he’s new to the process of building robots, and so the point will be for all of them to learn the basics together. “I think the real value in these workshops will be the lessons they learn about patience, and being able to work as a team.”
However, Torres says he has already handpicked two high school students who have programming experience, which he’s hoping will help get the students up to speed quickly.
At the trainings, leaders were warned that the competitions can be intense, kind of like a Comic Con for robotics, so Torres not necessarily expecting FYI to win a competition first time out. “If our team goes and successfully completes a couple of missions, that will be a win,” he says. “I’m just excited that the kids will be able to compete. It’s a chance for them to show their skills, assess what they’ve learned, have fun and be creative.”
FYI has experienced tremendous growth overall, but especially in the past three years. That growth has included the development of STEM programs. Partnering with LEGO in this unique program is helping FYI expand its STEM offerings and will perhaps inspire a few more Latino scientists or engineers! Stay tuned…