The study of robotics has now reached the middle school level in Abbotsford.
Grade 7 students from W.A. Fraser Middle School are the first to take part in a pilot program offered by Yale Secondary robotics teacher Dereck Dirom.
The students will attend Yale Secondary for approximately six hours this semester to discover the world of robotics. They will work in teams of three to design, build and program a basic robot that will interact with its environment, using the LEGO Mindstorms NXT platform.
Patti Tebbutt, district career programs principal, said robotics programs are an “excellent opportunity” for students to apply STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) concepts.
“STEM graduates, on average, enjoy better employment prospects and significantly higher starting salaries than graduates in non-STEM fields,” she said.
The program is supported with contributions from the Mitchell Odyssey Foundation and BCIT’s School of Energy.
Meanwhile, students at Abbotsford Middle School are also exploring future careers in STEM-related fields.
The school recently started a Science, Technology, Trades, Engineering, and Math (STTEM) program for students.
With technology teacher Mike Howe, students study applied science concepts and rotate through 10 areas: robotics, flight simulation, CNC machining, architectural drafting (CAD), bridge building, gravity, alternative energy, graphic design, animation, and rocket science.
Tebbutt said STEM learning is “fun and engages learners because it is project-based.”
Grade 8 students focus on one area, culminating in a final project that they present to their peers as well as other program partners.
In addition, the school district’s career program department is working with local business and post-secondary partners to increase student awareness about future STEM career possibilities.