Robotics Competition Highlights STEM Education

Local students combine Legos and computer programming and take it to the next level. Harmony Science Academy held its annual STEM festival today where students displayed their work in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

At the ages of 11 and 12, this group of 6th graders already have a passion for mechanical engineering. Robert Salinas, Ken Yaguchi, Oluwaseyi Johnson and Raquel Baca have worked on their robot for 6 months. They had the opportunity to showcase the robot at the STEM festival. They came up with the Trash Terminator which is built from common objects. Robert Salinas, a team member, explains, "We use medium molders, small molder, beans, axels, wheels and many other things."

The students came up with a programming code to give life to this robot. "You just type in the code and then download it into the robot, and the robot will do exactly what you want it to do."

Ideally, once the robot is programed it is capable of doing simple tasks, known as missions, like picking up or moving objects. That's when robots are ready to compete. Raquel Baca says, "In the game challenge, we also compete against other people, and we try to get the most points. There is also penalties that can also make us lose points."

The school says the STEM festival showcases every student's work and promotes the importance of STEM education. The team says they look forward to competing as they are challenged each year. "Even though this is a simple block of programming, it's actually a lot harder once you get inside those blocks."

The group of 6th graders interviewed are traveling to San Antonio at the end of the month to compete against elementary robotics teams from all over Texas.

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