By: Emma Layne Turner
WC District Webmaster
Monticello Elementary students had a unique opportunity to explore the field of robotics during the school year. Family Resource Center Director Leslie Randall facilitated an after school program where students learned how to build basic robots and learn entry level programming to control them.
Thirteen fifth graders participated in the program, which is originally designed for Middle School and High School students. Because of this, competitions with the robots were held at the school level, and then advanced to the state level.
Middle School and High School students participate in similar events through STLP, or the Student Technology Leadership Program. Students compete in various events at the regional and state level. Pre-judged competitions and live competitions are held. STLP allows students to create products, projects, and services to use in competition.
The fifth graders who competed at STLP entered at the Middle School level. The robotics competitions were live events. The STLP State Conference served as an intellectual playground for students. Exploratory activities and STEM activities were available for students to participate in.
Elora Garner won the Monticello Elementary Sumobot Competition and competed on behalf of the school’s robotic team at state. Fifth grader Jude Duke placed second. Elora competed with a robot created at school that was modified for use at competition. 502 schools competed at the State Championship. Students had the opportunity to compete in over fifty events.
At the state level, Elora battled several different robots in Sumobot Competition out of the hundreds who were in the same category. Elora, the daughter of Jasmine and Nathen Garner, was proud of her robot named “Killer Girl” that placed third in State Sumobot competition.
High School Student Brandon Catron placed first in the state in Onsite Web Development. Brandon was proud of himself and the other students who competed at the conference. He said, “Everyone who competed did a great job in the 2017 STLP State Competition. Congratulations to everyone for going and experiencing the event. I’m very thankful for my friends who supported me and allowed me to use their laptops when I wasn't at school. Hopefully next year will be just as successful.”
Students who were not competing were invited to utilize events at the conference. Fifth grader Dale West enjoyed exploring the STLP Conference while his teammate competed. Elora Garner also explored the conference after her competition. She reflected on the event saying, “We had a lot of fun with all the things they had to try out. Me and Dale went in a huge room where we played Minecraft, Robot Soccer, and Robot Bowling.”
Over 9,000 people attended the conference. R.J. Stieber and Peyton Gehring, two other students who attended the event, fondly acknowledged the refreshments of Dr. Pepper and Cotton Candy served at the conference.
The event inspired students to begin work on their robots for the next competition season, where they will compete as sixth graders. The STLP State Competition marked the end of the robotics class at Monticello Elementary for the school year. Hunter Frost said, “I’m sad it’s over next week.”
The class inspired students to pursue similar jobs in the future. “I want to be an Imagineer at Disney,” said Peyton Gehring. Malachi McWhorther envisions a career using robotics in the army. He explained, “I want to use robots to go where it’s not safe for humans.” Peyton Beckum said, “I want to program robots to show a hologram of a video game, cell phone, or TV.”
State finisher Elora Garner summarized her experience in the class, saying, “I liked the program. I enjoyed seeing what happened with the robots and what they would do. It was very interesting. I can see myself having a career in robotics or art.”
Monticello Elementary students who participated in the robotics class included (front row): Malachi McWhorter, Peyton Gehring, Nicholas Meece, Lorien Anderson, RJ Stieber, Hunter Frost, and Kent Guinn (back row): Elora Garner, Jude Duke, Dale West, Justin Vaughn, Wendell Hicks, and Payton Beckum.
Brandon Catron received first place in Onsite Web Design