By Adriana Anderson and Marie Ryan,
Eighth Grade students
It is not unusual to hear the sounds of laughter, music, and chatter coming from the eighth grade classroom on a Monday or Wednesday afternoon. Classes are out, but students are welcome to stay. These students are part of the Saint Martin of Tours School robotics team – a group of seventh and eighth graders focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and programming.
With the guidance of Notre Dame High School students, the team competes in the First Lego League, or FLL. The FLL’s mission is to encourage children and teens to be innovators and learn science, engineering, and technology skills, as well as gain valuable life experience in areas such as leadership and communication.
The members of robotics make sure to mix learning, building, and coding with fun, food, and a little bit of crazy. Building a robot from scratch is no small task, and it can take hours to code the robots to complete just one mission. Coding it to be exact can be difficult, and a rhythm is repeated over and over again. The process requires the team to place the robot at its starting point, run the existing code, find the fault, fix it slightly, update the code, and repeat. With Legos scattered around the room, the student engineers are busy finding the pieces they need for their robot or are glancing at a computer screen hoping it will give them the answers they need.
Creating a robot to complete missions is not the only aspect of the competition. The teams are also required to find a problem existing in the world relating to the mission, find a possible way to solve it, and create a presentation.
Overall, the Saint Martin’s robotics team is an exciting, challenging, and fun opportunity to explore the world of STEM and programming for seventh and eighth grade students.