Marty the Robot

Robots Among Us

Have you seen the robot rolling around in Stop & Shop? His name is Marty. He is tall with big googly eyes – you really can’t miss him.  When my 10-year-old sees Marty in the grocery store he loves to follow him around. I’m not sure what his purpose is, but he got me thinking – can the kids in Robotics Club at NSCS make a Marty?

NSCS has a Robotics Club that meets in Lynn on Fridays after school. The club, led by David Cook, consists of 12 students ranging from 4-8th grade. The students love the class, but it’s not just fun, it’s educational too. The Tech Edvocate explains, “Teaching robotics to young students throughout their schooling can increase their ability to be creative and innovative thinkers and more productive members of society.”

In his proposal, David Cook explains that the NSCS Robotics club is designed to expose students to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fundamentals within the context of building robots. Without even realizing it, students will begin to instinctively apply STEM concepts developing intuitive and deep-rooted expertise that cannot be replicated by traditional teaching methods. 

The class of 12 is split into two groups. Each group has access to VEX snap-together robotics system kits. These kits consist of over 800 structural & motion components. This includes motors, sensors, CPUs, controllers & rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Collaborating with their team, the students will develop custom robot configurations and program their unique robots to complete automatic tasks. explains that an unexpected benefit of teaching robotics in the classroom is helping kids build team-work skills. “When assembling robots in teams, some students are great at speaking and can verbally bring ideas to life. On the flipside, there are students who may not be as vocal, but they lead behind the scenes: they code, perform technical tasks and/or makes sure the team stays on task. Through the exercise of putting the robot together and making it move, these two types of students—both leaders in their own right—learn to communicate as a team and express their ideas to craft the best end result. The ability to come together as different types of leaders, communicate with each other and utilize their personal strengths will be essential throughout these students’ lives, no matter if they become an artist, a business executive or an engineer.”

Working in teams also has another advantage for this Robotics Club. It’s a good way to prepare for competitions. Although participation in competitions is not required of Robotics Club members, it is encouraged. The goal of the club is to design and implement robots ready to enter VEX Robotics Competitions. In these competitions, students from different schools are placed on teams and play against each other in game-based engineering challenges. Tournaments are held year-round at the regional, state, and national levels.  The NSCS Robotics Club will be heading to Hopkinton, Massachusetts in December for their first competition. 

It will be exciting to see the challenges our students will meet at these competitions and in class as they work as a team. Perhaps one day we will come across one of their robot creations in the grocery store, or better yet, the halls of our school.