Students at Mount Elizabeth Middle/Secondary School (MEMSS) are nuts (and bolts) about the world of robots through new robotics classes the school has begun offering.
Kim Wilkinson is the teacher for the Grade 9 and 10 robotics class, while Nick Dahler teaches the Grade 11 and 12 mechatronics class, which is a branch of engineering that focuses on the engineering of both electrical and mechanical systems.
Wilkinson and Dahler started teaching the classes after responding to an email a couple of years ago asking if any teachers would be interested in starting a robotics club. For there, it turned into an elective course for students, with the mechatronics class having its first run last school year and the robotics class following for its first year this past September.
“I think some people just don’t realize they are interested in it, right, and once they start playing with it, it’s kind of fun,” Wilkinson said.
The MEMSS robotics club was started in 2018 thanks to a donation of several robotics kits by Rio Tinto to MEMSS, St. Anthony’s Catholic School, and Nechako Elementary. Rio Tinto also helped sponsor the competition between the three schools that MEMSS hosted in 2019.
In competitions, pre-programmed robots complete a series of challenges, such as pushing things over, jumping hurdles, sorting blocks by colour, or escaping a maze. There is also usually a time limit to complete challenges.
However, both Wilkinson and Dahler said the in-class work is project-based and they’re focusing more on getting the students to learn coding and building and be creative in their ideas, rather than getting their robots completely perfect and automatic.
“I think the idea of them coming up with original ideas, I really like how they are able to build something like this, with a set of instructions, as an initial project, but they take it from there and do basically whatever they need to solve a problem,” Dahler said. “And they all come up with original ideas.”
For more about the MEMSS robotics classes, read the Oct. 29 edition of the Kitimat Northern Sentinel.