Learning through robotics

Published 4:39 pm Friday, February 7, 2014

TYLER STOCKS|DAILY NEWS APPLICATION: Students apply science and math principles to build robots and solve problems.

APPLICATION: Students apply science and math principles to build robots and solve problems.


Washington Daily News


The Boys &Girls Club of Beaufort County continues to be a force in the community when it comes to helping youth discover talents and abilities they never knew existed.

The club has been in operation since 1992. To recognize the progress made by the club, the organization was named Nonprofit of the Year for 2013 by the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce during its award banquet Tuesday night.

One way club members are discovering their talents and abilities is through the STEM program, which began Thursday. Instructional coach Denny Hawkins said children are learning that science, technology, engineering and mathematics can be fun and useful in the job market.

“Kids are building robots. We’re teaching them the basics. I think this an excellent opportunity to get kids excited about technology, science, and mathematics. Most kids want to be football stars, basketball stars and rock stars. What happens when you’re 18 and you realize you’re not going to change the world? You have to have a skill set. If we can get more kids excited, the higher learning can lead to a better job,” Hawkins said.

The atmosphere at the Boys & Girls Club on Thursday can accurately be described as a sea of good chaos. Robots and kits were scattered across tables as engineering coaches from Beaufort County Community College and East Carolina University helped students build their masterpiece.

The robotic taskmaster, John Anderson, described specific areas of instruction kids are learning about.

“It starts with simple robotics and pieces of equipment. Kids learn about numerous types of sensors and ultrasonic touch. They have to use their senses, eyes, ears and nose. We also talk about the different type of batteries, and they have built a forklift. Everything we do is tied in with the real world,” Anderson said.

“This program allows kids to do a job and once they build their robots, we have individual team competitions. If they succeed at the competition, they get rewarded with gold dollars. They get paid and see that if they learn their job, do it well, they get a paycheck.”

The latter half of the program involves aviation, and because of a partnership with Dillon’s Aviation in Greenville, children train in flight simulators used by pilots while also learning about flight dynamics, weather and much more. The program runs for 10 weeks. Anderson said that it’s programs like this that give children the job skills they need to be competitive in the work force.

The Beaufort County Boys & Girls Club’s unit in Washington is located at 1028 N. Bridge St. For more information on its programs, follow the club on Facebook or call 252-833-0600.