Carson High Robotics Club continues to make impact
Cyber Mafia team members
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Skills in engineering, programming and more is the core of the Carson High School Cyber Mafia Robotics program.
The team, finishing its first year as an official CHS sponsored club, focuses on building a variety of skills with the students from communication to teamwork to business planning in addition to the obvious benefits of work with robots.
“It is to create true real life engineering experience, and that is hard,” said coach Scot Duncan.
While the Robotics team has been around for about six years, Bowler said the concept as a whole has only recently started to take off in Carson City and Northern Nevada.
“As more kids get involved with engineering, it is a fun way to try to learn the skills,” coach Michelle Bowler said.
Robotics has varying levels, at the high school level, each year they have a challenge to compete with the robot and throughout the year they work together to brainstorm, build, run and fix their robot to make sure it works effectively and completes the task in the allotted time to gain more points.
“It is like a sports event,” Bowler said.
This year, they had to build a robot that picked up blocks and stacked them in a designated container in two minutes and the highest score at the end wins.
Bowler said the kids created a unique machine that used reverse wheels to pick up the blocks instead of the typical claw or forklift that’s used.
The students have to do everything, including raise funds and budget to see what parts they can afford for the robot, teach themselves programming, design the concept, learn how to wire and run the robot and more. In the competitions, they have to present their engineer notebook, demonstrate the robot and provide their business model to the judges.
“They do a lot more than what a lot of people see, there is a lot of invisible things going on,” Duncan said.
This year, was particularly rewarding for the students, as they were able to compete successfully with a team of almost entirely new participants.
Junior Luke Bowler started this year on the team, but had to completely teach himself programming over the summer. For him, the team is a way to be with his friends and learn these new skills.
“It is fun in general, I am interested in engineering,” said Bowler. “…My friends were on it so I wanted to continue it with them.”
The team has won several awards this year, including Luke who was one of two Nevada students to make it to the national Dean’s List.
And for these students, it opens a whole new door for career opportunities.
“We are trying to grow our program because there is a shortage of engineers in the United States … so a program like this gets students interested in STEM and want to go into those fields, even if it may not be robotics,” Bowler said. “This is about getting involved in STEM in a fun way.”
But the team is more than just about building a robot.
“It pushes, what we call ourselves, nerds out of their comfort zone to get out and interact with people and go communicate,” Duncan said. “And that is important because they aren’t sitting in their rooms trying to build a robot, they are getting out and interacting with different people.”
In addition, they also like to get out into the community.
The team mentored elementary students at the Boys and Girls Clubs through the year, offers summer camps to elementary students and gives demonstrations to the community throughout the year.
To learn more about robotics in Nevada, visit http://firstnevada.org.