Robots Are on the Move at J-E-T
Posted on 11/18/2019
Students building robotic vehicles

Photo Caption: Gerard Glanton and Mason Toothman build their robots.

It is not uncommon these days to see remote-controlled robots scooting about in the halls of Johnston-Edgefield-Trenton Middle School. The Gateway to Technology students guiding them have designed, programmed, and built them and are proud to demonstrate how they work.

Gateway instructors Kayla Eskew and Jodi Knapp are teaching their students to use a computer coding language to program a device called a micro:bit, which controls a robot. Once the code series has been completed, students use a program to download the code to their robot and then troubleshoot any problems that arise.

Seventh-grade students in Mrs. Knapp’s class focus primarily on programming skills, but they have the option of building their robots on their own time. Piper Parkman stated, “The micro:bit and the robot are on my Christmas list this year.”

Eighth graders in Ms. Eskew’s class are programming and building the robots, designing them to avoid obstacles, to turn when they meet obstacles, and to play music. Sometimes it is a process that works by trial and error. Joey Brooks, an eighth-grade student, tested his robot and determined that it needed to stop faster, so he used an algorithm to change the speed of the stop.

Ms. Eskew pointed out that the robot design and building process “teaches problem-solving and exposes students to real world programming and engineering from start to finish. It also shows them what a career in engineering might look like.” The entire process engages the students and empowers them to make decisions that will affect the outcome of how their products work, and it may ultimately affect their career choices in the long run. They have only just begun to tap into the possibilities that lie ahead.

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