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Design Students Explore Robotics and Teamwork
Design Students Explore Robotics and Teamwork
Posted on 01/19/2022
North Buncombe seventh graders build robots for an in-class competition.Featured Photos: 1. (Above) Students in Ms. Allison McDevitt's Design and Modeling class at North Buncombe Middle School test their robots with a soccer-like game. 2. (Below) Seventh grader Grace Engstrom prepares to compete with classmates in the robotics ring.

By: Benjamin Rickert

BCS Communications Dept.

One of the best ways to learn about robots is to build one.

On Jan. 12, seventh grade Design and Modeling students surrounded a small, indoor competition area at North Buncombe Middle School where small robots competed in a soccer-like game. The students designed, built, and programmed the robots with creative ideas to gain a competitive edge. One robot featured a claw and was able to pick up and drop tennis balls. Other robots were closer to the ground and pushed the balls toward goals. Teams cheered for their robots and took turns operating wireless controllers as they attempted to maneuver around - or straight through - the competition.

“This is a great place [for students] to practice their collaboration and problem-solving skills,” said Project Lead the Way (PLTW) teacher Allison McDevitt. “They need these real-world skills for the future.”

Students who enjoyed the robotics project will have the opportunity to take a more advanced robotics class next year, as well as join the school’s robotics competition club.

Seventh grader Grace Engstrom prepares to compete with classmates in the robotics ring.“We built a robot that basically uses a computer program we loaded onto it, and we use wireless USB to drive them,” explained student Grace Engstrom.

Engstrom likes that Ms. McDevitt explains the basics for each project and then gives teams a lot of freedom to explore their ideas.

“You definitely get to do more self-led things,” said Engstrom. “You’ve got to figure it out on your own.”

In Buncombe County Schools, PLTW classes integrate academics with engaging projects based on real-world scenarios. Students are challenged to work together using STEM* knowledge and design principles to solve problems.

As Wednesday’s class competition came to a close, every team learned lessons about their design decisions. Some of the robots scored goals, while others were more stable in close quarters. Some robots flipped upside down and needed to be rescued by the students to continue the match.

“We always need to fill STEM jobs," said McDevitt. "But even if students don’t go into the STEM or robotics fields, they’ll be able to apply the skills they learned here.”

*STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

    Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin, [email protected], 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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