Darlington’s robotics program has been in existence for approximately five years. This year the school hosted two regional qualifying tournaments, the FIRST Lego League for Middle School students and the FIRST Tech Challenge for Upper School students. The Middle School team placed first in programming and fourth in robots while the Upper School teams advanced to the quarterfinals.
“Community involvement is a major part of the FIRST Robotics program,” said Owen Kinney, who is the robotics instructor at the Upper School. “Teams are encouraged to promote robotics and to use their technical expertise to serve their communities. Each of our team members is required to log at least 10 hours of community service; however, they do a lot more than that.”
The goal of Robotics is to make science, engineering and technology engaging and meaningful in the lives of youth. The activities in this curriculum do so by encouraging young people to use the processes and approaches of science, the planning and conceptual design of engineering and the application of technology in their personal portfolios of skills and abilities.
“My goal through the process of the continued development of a quality Robotics program in our area is for our local youth to engage in a program that equips them with skills to further their own personal successes. Hopefully they will continue in future careers and make significant science contributions to society that will help to improve the lives of others around them. I am excited to be collaborating with someone so knowledgeable and committed to science and Robotics as Owen Kinney. Collaboration is important for me in learning about this program and intentionally engaging our local young scientists. In these times it can be a challenge for programs to start up and remain quality, but by combining skills, knowledge, and resources we can have a great chance for continued success.”
The grant is underwritten and supported nationally by JC Penney. Georgia 4-H, part of the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Cooperative Extension dministers the grants funds. 4-H developed a comprehensive robotics program in 2009 to inspire young people and develop an early interest in engineering and technology.
Maria Barragan, a Junior from Ecuador, says “Since we have fours teams at Darlington and only one supply cart, we are always competing for parts. With the grant from 4-H we can buy extra parts and every team can make the necessary improvements to their robots.
Charlie Xu, a Junior from China, says “My team has enjoyed the process of using our creative talents to design, build and program original robots. I am looking forward to next year’s challenge, and I know that our team will benefit from extra motors and other parts.
This program is part of 4-H’s bold goal to engage one million new young people in science by the year 2013 and to address a declining trend in our nation’s science, engineer, mathematics, and technology workforce. With an expansive network reaching every corner of the country, 4-H is the nation’s largest youth development organization. More than 6 million 4-H youth in urban neighborhoods, suburban schoolyards and rural farming communities stand out among their peers: building revolutionary opportunities and implementing community-wide change at an early age.