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Heritage Middle School Robotics Mentor Elementary Students

Each year, the Heritage Middle School Robotics teams pack up their competition robots and head to several Frenship elementary schools for a demonstration in middle school robotics. The group works with elementary Gifted & Talented teachers to encourage students who are entering middle school next year to join the robotics team.  

During the visits robotics coaches, Dustin Thomas and Kim Thomson gave a brief introduction to robotics at the middle school campuses and the First Tech Challenge (FTC) program and season. The robotics students then demonstrated this year's FTC robots to the students and part of the game elements they had to do at this season's game.  

FTC, presented by Raytheon Technologies, is a contest where students are challenged to design, build, program, and operate robots to compete in a head-to-head challenge in an alliance format. Students are presented with different games and challenges each season and must work together to innovate, program, and solve these challenges to be successful. Guided by the coaches and high school mentors, students develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles, while realizing the value of hard work, innovation, and working as a team. Students strengthen their knowledge of school-to-STEM careers as the next generation of innovators.    

After the presentation, the elementary students were able to drive the robots themselves and get a feel for advanced robotics. The students are excited to get their hands on the controls and test their skills. The goal of the hands-on experiment with advanced robotics is to challenge and inspire younger students to pursue robotics next year.  

Thomson stated that the group aims to pay it forward and encourage elementary students to continue learning about robotics.  

“We feel it is very important to do robotics outreach to encourage the ideals of FIRST Robotics with a collaborative and creative mentoring program for elementary-aged students,” said Thomson. “Our students have received fantastic mentoring from the high school robotics program, so we want to do the same and encourage those interested in robotics in our younger students.” 

By acknowledging and serving the needs of GT students, robotics provides another avenue for the GT middle school students to continue pursuing their engineering interests as well as providing growth opportunities for building communication and social skills.