Hidalgo Early College High School (HECHS) integrated a Robotics Club to nourish a STEM educational framework that approaches learning with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
The Robotics Club has helped develop skills in engineering, programming, problem-solving, and teamwork that will prepare students for future careers in STEM fields.
At the beginning of the year, the Robotics Club entered a rookie team in ‘The First Tech Challenge’ where students “learned to solve problems, they learned grit, and they also learned to never give up,” added Albino Lozano, educator, and Robotics Club Sponsor. “Students were also encouraged to manage their time, the materials, and realistic expectations of what the robot can do, while implementing teamwork attributes such as communication with their team and sharing knowledge and skills amongst other teams.”
The First Tech Challenge aspired the Robotics Team to be creative, use the design process to design, build, test, and refine a robot. The students faced a few hiccups along the way but managed to pull through graciously.
“The competition had a motto of ‘Gracious Professionalism,’ which meant a way of doing things that encouraged high-quality of work, emphasized the value of others, and respect individuals and the community,” added Lozano. Additionally, “the robot had to compete in multiple challenges, in which students dealt with encounters such as design constraints.”
The Robotics Team has competed in Houston, San Antonio, and throughout the Rio Grade Valley (RGV).
The team recently participated in a scrimmage las month on Oct., seventh. Not only did the students enjoy learning from each other, and other teams, they also built new friendships along the way.
“It was a friendly scrimmage, and I liked how everyone was so approachable, helpful and very welcoming,” explained Junior, Vanessa Velazquez. “Not only did we get to bond with our teammates, but we also made new friends while learning from them.”
The Robotics Club has played a critical role in the students’ learning environment. It has introduced elements of critical analysis, inquiry, creativity, innovation, and perseverance.
The first competition of the year took place in Harlingen at Cano Freshman Academy on Oct., twenty-first. Lozano described the competition as a thrilling one. Although the students had a few setbacks they were able to apply the skills they learned to solve the problems that unexpectedly arose. There was a lot of learning and a lot of fun amid the chaos.
Students felt a little more prepared to face their first competition due to the preparation that came about after the scrimmage. They adopted new ideas for their robot from the scrimmage they attended.
“We started to build the robot based on the different robot ideas we came across during the scrimmage,” stated Junior, Roman Ponce. “Everyone contributed their ideas and had defined roles; some students were involved in making a practice arena, others were involved in building and designing the actual physical components, and I was mostly in charge of the wiring and programming.”
Even though the competition didn’t go as planned, there was a lot of learning involved. The students learned from their mistakes and enjoyed the competition regardless of the obstacles they faced.
“We will use this as a learning experience and built from that,” Ponce said.
The students have learned a variety of key skills through the robotics club as they have participated in the design, building, programming, manufacturing, wiring, and testing the phases of making a robot come to life.