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Wetumpka High students E.J. Aloria, Hannah James, Nathan Rankin and Caitlin Sweeney work on a “tower” during a team-building exercise at robotics camp. Photo by Peggy Blackburn
Wetumpka High students E.J. Aloria, Hannah James, Nathan Rankin and Caitlin Sweeney work on a “tower” during a team-building exercise at robotics camp. Photo by Peggy Blackburn

Robotics teams get head start at camp

Published 4:06am Monday, August 19, 2013

Students interested in exploring Wetumpka High’s and Wetumpka Middle’s robotics teams had that opportunity this past week. A camp was held for three consecutive afternoons to give students a feel for what participation in the teams involves.
Teachers Virginia Vilardi (high school) and Beth Roberts (middle school) worked with the students.
“This is just kind of an introduction,” said Vilardi. “We do some kind of camp every year so the kids can get a little head start.
“Most of the students here have been involved with robotics before, but we have a few ones.”
Vilardi said this year’s session covered the basics of safety, risks involved, requirements and documenting work and processes.
“Yesterday we introduced them to the tools they will be using, and today we’re doing team-building exercises,” Vilardi said Wednesday.
And time is at a premium in the world of high school robotics competitions. Kickoff day for the BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) program will be Sept. 5. At that session, participating teams will receive the parts and mission for this year’s challenge.
Mall Day – a trial run for the student-built robots – will be held Oct. 6; and the official Game Day will be Oct. 19.
“Our kids decided they wanted to rename our team this year,” said Vilardi. “They are now going to be called the WHS SteAm Machine. They picked that because we’re trying to build a STEM program here.”
Vilardi explained that STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
“I’ve applied for a grant to help with a STEM program,” she added. “I want to make it so that students can earn a STEM endorsement on their diplomas.”

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