PVCA Joins FIRST Robotics Lego League
By Sofia Murzin, Lead Student Correspondent
The first Ever Robotics Club at PVCA, open to fourth through eighth graders, was instituted early this fall. The club is participating in a program called First Lego League, in which students have to devise a creative solution to a challenge, and present their solution at a tournament. The theme for this year’s tournament is Animal Allies, and the directive for each team is to identify a problem where humans and animals interact, either purposely or accidentally. “The kids are given a two-part challenge. The robot portion is where they build and then program the robot to complete certain challenges. The other portion is a science research project,” said Melissa Horn, the Team Administrator. The teams have roughly 10 weeks to complete their projects for a qualifying tournament in Agawam, where they will present to judges their solution to a real life problem in the Animal Kingdom world. If they qualify, they will then advance to tournaments at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in December.
“We thought maybe we’ll have 5 or 6 kids; we have thirty,” Horn commented, “There’s a lot of in
terest. For thirty kids doing this, they work very diligently.” The enthusiastic turnout required that there be three teams, The Brick Builders, The Robo Eagles, and The Gear Shifters. Each team has its own problem to solve. For example, The Gear Shifters, are focusing on bees and why they are dying. The students are learning critical thinking and teamwork skills, along with how to manage their own projects, as only very limited help from their coaches is allowed. “We were all surprised at how diligently the kids worked, especially the first session,” said one of the coaches, Anthony Kolb, “We expected it to be a little more off the walls.”
The Robotics Club is the first extra curricular activity that is a STEM activity at PVCA. “We just felt as though some kids are sports kids and some kids are school kids, so we wanted to have something like this for them.” The Robotics Club benefits young students by exposing them to science and engineering early on, but it does not end there. Even if a child is not aspiring to be an engineer, the club can be extremely beneficial, in that The Robotics Club inspires students to think critically and creatively; It teaches them to became problem solvers and doers in the world.