Regional STEM Center Year 1: Sharing our Love of Robotics

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Originally written by professor Henglyns Henderson, VEX mentor; translated from Spanish

After the visit of our US mentor , Alan Ostrow, in June we undertook a new path full of many learning experiences, we talked with the 14 students who were inducted into VEX robotics. These are youth who have graduated from high school, some are now university students and others works in different areas, yet all have a common desire to learn and share their knowledge with other kids and youth in their communities. The STEM team concluded that we needed to train a group of technical youth that would share their VEX robotics knowledge and ideas with youth in the frontier region. We scheduled different meetings to learn more about the VEX robotics modality, looking for all types of materials that could help us to become specialized in the design and programming of the robots, making use of the 6 kits that the organization Shoulder to Shoulder donated to us.

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VEX technical team programming pulse, vision and color sensors at different meetings

In the first meeting we learned to program with the online application VEXCode VR conducting practical exercises that helped us to understand programming in blocks and simulate the robot’s movements. We learned the basic parts of the robot and the expansion kit pieces and then soon after we began programming on VEXcodev5 on our computers realizing various movement exercises for the robot. It’s a very exciting experience to see how the youth overcome each challenge. We know that the wishes of Dr. Richard Buten and the organization Shoulder to Shoulder is that more youth and children have the opportunity to learn STEM skills, this motivates us and we began planning a training with the team in San Antonio, Intibuca that is located 25km from the headquarters of the STEM Center. They have demonstrated a lot of interest in learning and we want for them to be able and create their own VEX robotics club in their municipality.

We planned the training which took place in the STEM Center with the presence of the project coordinator, Henglyns Henderson Lemus who is an informatics teacher, along with 6 members of the VEX robotics Technical team. At the training 5 youth volunteers who make up the VEX robotics team in San Antonio were trained and they, in turn will replicate their acquired knowledge to everyone else on their team.

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VEX technical team member training the San Antonio team 

We are happy to know that more kids and youth in the region will have the opportunity to learn about robotics. The VEX robotics Technical Team from the Regional STEM center will continue working to create more VEX robotics clubs in the region.

Having finished all the robotics meetings this year, we have learned many things like to never give up on what we want to accomplish. We were introduced to and explored the pieces of the VEX kit. We learned to construct different prototypes and program them, we solved exercise puzzles with VEX VR which helped us to improve our logic. All of this we achieved through trial and error since we did not have prior knowledge in this new robotics modality. We also got the opportunity to use for the first time a 3D printer and we worked with some industrial tools.

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VEX 3D printing with FIRST Global team (left); Henglyns & students with team tshirts (right)

We are thankful for the opportunity that we are being given to learn more about the robotics world. And we will always be willing to help teach robotics to then children and youth from our community.

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