Tyler ISD elementary students show-off robots, STEAM knowledge

Tyler ISD elementary students show-off robots, STEAM knowledge

On Tuesday, robotic clubs from Tyler ISD elementary campuses gathered inside the Caldwell Arts Academy gymnasium to show off their robots during the East Texas Robotics & Coding Showcase.

The purpose of the event was to give students an outlet to express their STEAM side and experience programming/coding, building a robot, and participating in a competition. Students who participated ranged from first grade to third grade.

This year’s showcase was circus themed which required students to work on a robot that will be able to assist a circus and will either solve or do something at the event.

“It’s a recycling dump truck so we got creative and put a cage on top of it so now it brings the animals in and out in case an animal escapes due to a noticeable reason,” said Zoë Serrano, third grade student of Andy Woods Elementary, as she demonstrated the robot during the showcase.

As students proudly demonstrated their creative pieces, a group of judges walked around the showcase stopping by at tables asking students about their display, knowledge of coding, what their robot does at the circus, purpose of robot or problem that can be solved by the robot, said Angela Gregory, Media Technology Specialist at Andy Woods and Rice Elementary.

Gregory is currently in charge of the robotics club inside two elementary campuses, Andy Woods Elementary and Rice Elementary, who both participated in the showcase.

She mentioned that students who enter the club are not knowledgeable of robots at first but throughout the program they learn about robotics, coding, and how to build them through provided kits.

“It’s so much fun seeing the kids come together as a team, and work together to figure out the coding, build the robots and just the fun that they have,” Gregory said.

Gregory said as the instructor for the robotics team, she hopes students who participate in the club will soak in the skills and use them for their future.

“I think programming is the future for our kiddos, especially with all the things that they’re involved in whether is video games or things they’re doing in school,” she said. “I hope that they take all of these skills and use them in the future when they become adults.”

Hunter McConnell, Media Technology Specialist at Tyler High School, has been coordinating robotic competitions among the district for the past several years and was excited for the event to come back after last year when it was done virtual.

According to McConnel, the yearly event is all thanks to volunteers, who assist without getting paid.

“We basically try to get a teacher or a media technician specialist, or someone to volunteer across the district. It’s all volunteer, they don’t get paid for any of this,” he said.

He said the goal of the yearly showcase is to inspire first to third grade students to continue participating in robotics competitions and showcases as they get older.

“Our hope of us doing this, with our first to third grade, we want them as they grow up to continue participating in our robotics competitions and showcases. We’re trying to inspire creativity in these students, and hope that they get experience of what we called STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math),” he said. “Our hope is that we’re inspiring the students to one day they might go into a field that is in the robotics coding science type of theme, and that fits that mold.”

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