Robotics competition set today

Published 8:24 am Thursday, March 19, 2015

WINDSOR – Last September MUST-Innov8, Inc., a Winston-Salem-based consulting firm, expanded on their innovation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning for students at Bertie Middle School with the introduction of the Lego Robotic League.

The project actually began at the Bertie STEM High School a year ago; now at the middle school level has a new feeding ground for young scientific minds.

Over the past few years there has been an increased emphasis on offering a greater variety of STEM courses and on pushing students towards taking those courses. While educators admit STEM courses can provide great benefits for those students willing to take them, many students have shown little interest in these courses beyond what is needed to meet graduation requirements.

Then earlier this month, MUST-Innov-8 founders Joe Kronner and Sam McComick showed a Power Point presentation before the Bertie County Commissioners that detailed various robotics events they have coordinated, specifically in the Winston-Salem – Forsyth County region with the “Robot Run”, a chance for students with an interest in STEM areas to test their abilities at successfully building, and programming a robot.

“We are committed to transforming the lives of students and in the process we hope to create a vibrant economy for the region,” McCormick said.

“Once students discover the joy of being a problem solver and innovator it seems to leave a lifelong itch to go further and deeper down a path of discovery and innovation,” he added. “Exciting students about science and math is a marketing problem. Successfully engaging students in science and math requires showing them how much fun science and math can be. It is simply a matter of sneaking up on them and getting them to love the discovery and innovation process before they realize they are chest deep in science and math and enjoying it,” Sam McCormick said in closing.

“Robot Run” also provided opportunities for the community to sponsor, volunteer, and mentor students in preparation for the event.  Not only have community volunteers, STEM instructors, and Roanoke-Chowan Community College personnel assisted with the start-up, but this project has also created a partnership with Bertie County Schools, and the Roanoke River Valley Education Consortium (RRVEC) STEM Education Initiative and the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) LEGO League, or FFL.

The league consists of middle school students between the ages of 9 and 14 that spans RRVEC’s five school systems including Bertie County.  Each school has three teams that have built a robot.

“As you probably know the project is charging full speed ahead,” said McCormick. “Teams have been formed at Bertie Middle School, Warren County Middle School and Northside Elementary School and the students are working hard on their robot designs, programming, science project, and putting into practice the core values.”

The first intra-school competition will be today (Thursday) at 4:30 p.m. at Bertie Middle School and Warren County Middle School.

Then, a week from Saturday (March 28) the first RRVEC “Ultineers Tournament” will be held at Roanoke-Chowan Community College in Ahoskie from 1-to-4 p.m.  That’s when the Bertie County Schools students will square off against their counter-parts in Warren County.

“The students are very excited and would love to have a big crowd on hand to enjoy the fruits of their hard work and watch them compete,” Kronner said.