The robotics class is built around a competition element that pits students from Darlington with the peers from Singapore to Syracuse.
“I am a boss, I am not a teacher for this class,” Kinney confessed during a presentation to the Rome Kiwanis Club Monday. He said the robotics program has been in existence for about five years.
Darlington students participate in the First Tech Challenge, a mid-level robotics competition for high school students, which does not reveal the nature of the challenge until early September each year. “That gives them about four weeks to piddle around with the kit,” Kinney said. “Everybody has the same objective whether you’re in Singapore of Idaho.”
Darlington seniors Denny Nolan, Erik Griffiths and junior Du Zhang all accompanied Kinney to show off three different robots the students built this year. The students are among 16 in the competition program, representing seven different nationalities at Darlington.
There’s lots of sweating, lots of freaking out and it’s very stressful,” Kinney said. The students who participate in the program also give a lot back to the community. “We like to do service, each students has to do at least 10 hours,” Kinney said. Sometimes that’s as simple as showing off the robots for students at the Boys & Girls Club.
While Griffiths plans to study robotics in college, Nolan wants to go into computer sciences and Zhang is still undecided.
Nolan told the civic group that putting together the competition robot involves a lot of trial and error. “We keep trying new things, it’s just a lot of practice,” Nolan said.
Kinney compares the program to teaching a student how to be an entrepreneur. “We’re giving the kids an opportunity when having a failure is not really expensive,” Kinney said.