“There’s electric cars. There’s electric trains. Here comes a robot with electric brains.”
“Robot Parade” by They Might Be Giants
I find myself interacting with robots quite a bit at the Academy. I teach the Upper School robotics class and serve as the coach/advisor for the VEX Robotics team. Despite having little direct experience with robots in the past, I have found the experience exhilarating.
I have a background in physics, computer science, IT, and electronics. Robotics is a perfect intersection of those disciplines. Robots are a real-world manifestation of both mechanical and software engineering; so naturally, a science nerd can become quite taken by them.
There is more at work, though, than the science and technology elements. Making a robot requires creativity and imagination. Students must design a functioning mechanism in their mind first and then birth it into the physical world. That process of bringing ideas to fruition is where the excitement happens!
Most of all, robotics is about problem solving. That original design in your head or on paper never quite works out in reality. Mechanical limitations, unforeseen consequences, and the laws of physics themselves all play havoc with a design. Recognizing, analyzing, and overcoming those challenges as a team is a great exploration of the engineering design process.
I can think of no better example of the Academy’s experiential and holistic approach to learning. Watching students dive into these challenges has been one of the most rewarding parts of my time at the Academy.
I can’t wait to see what they do next…
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