Robotics contest inspires students to further education

A group of Portales Junior High School students spent the year working on a project that used robotics to teach students math, engineering, teamwork and problem-solving techniques.

The project also introduced students to various programming concepts. Eighth-grader Baylee McCluskey joined the project because she hopes to pursue a career in electronic and computer engineering. McCluskey also wants to become an architect.

"I really wanted to learn how to program robots so I could get a headstart in engineering, said McCluskey, who started making blueprints from homes in notebooks in fourth grade. "The project has made me better in programming and I'm hoping to do it again next year."

McCluskey and nine other students competed in RoboRAVE on May 5 in Albuquerque. RoboRAVE is the state's largest robotics competition.

McCluskey said her experience at RoboRAVE was hectic but fulfilling. She said her team, parent volunteer Dave Asplund and PJHS science teacher Shareen King crammed together in King's room the night before the competition working on robots till midnight.

Seventh-grader Emily Brown also plans to pursue a career in engineering, most likely in electronics. She said working on the project sharpened her programming skills and broadened her knowledge of science and engineering.

"I learned how to better interact with people and practice better teamwork," Brown said.

"Without teamwork you basically can't do a project like this."

Brown said RoboRAVE forced her team to solve problems that arose with their robot at the event. She believes this experience taught her more about robotics. Asplund has helped with the project since January. His main role was working with students to ensure correct programming. Asplund said he loves to see students become enlightened with knowledge while working on robots.

"I love to see the look on their faces as they put together the pieces of the robot and they understand the concepts," Asplund said. "I think it's extremely important that we help young students develop engineering and science skills."

Portales Junior High 2012 RoboRAVE participants:

  • Jearold Asplund
  • Emily Brown
  • Nicholas Brown
  • Alexis Evans
  • Kelsey Johns
  • Christopher Leap
  • Baylee McCluskey
  • Edward Varela
  • Caleb Vigil
  • Jacelyn Wilbanks

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