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St. Mary's Robotics Club Teaches Students About Technology

St. Mary's Robotics Club programmed Lego "RoverBots" to manuever through a windy path, competing for the fastest lap time.

St. Mary's Robotics Club programmed Lego "RoverBots" to manuever through a windy path, competing for the fastest lap time.

By Jack LaLonde
7th Grade Student

On five Thursdays throughout the months of March and April, 7th and 8th grade students from St. Mary of Gostyn school were taught about robots and learned how to program their own robotic cars. The students used laptops provided by St. Marys to better understand how robots complete what they could do.

The program, titled “Developing Software for Developing Minds,” is part of a technology outreach activity sponsored by a Global Energy firm. Meetings were held after school at St. Marys in Downers Grove. This club was started by Lisa White, a middle school science teacher. Parent Bob Burns helped by providing the robots and by instructing students.

On the first meeting of five, the students were told what was going to happen. To start off, they separated into three groups of four to five students. Each group got their own robotic car and computer. Then, students learned how to program their robots to perform simple tasks, such as moving forwards for three seconds or making a turn. The groups got large packets of instructions telling them how to execute a certain move.

Soon enough, this became a friendly competition between groups. Matthew M. had this to say about Robotics Club, “I really enjoyed learning about how robots work while still having a competition with my friends.” The students soon learned that they could teach their robots how to follow lines depending on the color of the line. A map was laid out on a table to show what the cars would try to follow. Each group would put their robots on the track individually to follow the given path. For the winning group that finished the path in the fastest time, they would receive large candy bars. Throughout all of the rest of the meetings, the students were working hard, hoping to win. “The competition was all for fun, but we were still working as hard as we could to win,” said John L, a 7th grader.

In the end, the group of Tom K., Joseph L., Patrick J., and Jack L. was the team to take home the victory and their candy. Even for those students who did not win, robotics club was a very rewarding experience. “I learned that today’s technology isn’t as smart as it seems. Regular people are needed in order for it to do what it does,” added Griffin O., 7th grader.

Other members of the club were Nolan C., Devin G., Kathleen H., Jackson K., and Tom F. St. Mary of Gostyn’s Robotics Club was a great way for students to learn and have fun.

St. Mary of Gostyn school offers preschool, full- and half-day kindergarten and a first through eighth grade Catholic education. For more information, contact Dianne Czopek at (630) 968-6155.

For more photos, visit: /downers-grove/community/galleries/2011/06/st-marys-robotics-club-teaches-students-about-technology/

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