As high schools throughout the area offer more advanced classes, extracurricular activities are following a similar trend.
That is the case at Warrenton High School, where the Robotics Club is in its first year.
Known as “The Droids,” the group attracted approximately 34 students this year, according to Hanh Nguyen, math teacher and the club’s faculty adviser.
The students spent two months building a robot which was entered in a competition Saturday, Dec. 8, at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley.
The experience provides the students with “21st century skills through hands-on experience and collaboration,” Nguyen remarked. “Some of these students have not played team sports, but here they are working with other students to build a robot for competition.”
Nguyen noted that the club is divided into groups, explaining that some of the students actually work on the robot itself while others are responsible for marketing and public relations.
Participation in the club gives students hands-on experience using skills involving technology and mechanics, math, science, engineering design, management and organization.
Getting the robot ready for competition was an involved process, Nguyen noted. Once the unit was built, the students programmed it to perform its tasks, and then began going through the process of testing it to determine whether it worked correctly.
“Then they had to take it apart, fine-tune it, rebuild it and start again,” he remarked.
The robot itself is operated by two students, one “driver” who is responsible for moving the unit between task stations, and another student who operates the “arm” to pick up rings and place them on a rack.
During competition, the Warrenton students work in tandem with another team and robot on the same task, Nguyen said.
The robotics team, which is part of the larger Robotics Club, will enter another competition Jan. 20 at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.