(ROCKWALL, TX – August 10, 2015) The gym at the JER Chilton YMCA at Rockwall is crowded and busy. Around 25 kids, ranging in age from 4th-8th grade, are rushing around in a mad dash to put the finishing touches on the robots that they’ve spent all week working on.
This is the last day of the Rockwall Jr. Robotics “Battle Bots” Summer Camp. The kids, guided by director Kevin Fisher and student robotics mentors from Rockwall High School, have spent the week of August 3rd through 7th learning what a robot is, how it works and how to build one.
However, Fisher didn’t start out interested in robots. The Rockwall YMCA member was a soccer coach for nearly 16 years for his children’s teams, but he says one day he reached a realization.
So he decided to make a change. When his daughters were in school, he went to the school and asked what he could do to be more involved with his daughters’ academics. They asked him if he would take charge of the robotics program. He was up for the task.
“Anything I do, I do big,” he explained.
Even though the program just started last year, Fisher and his robotics participants already have some great memories.
“At our first competition we really didn’t know what to expect. Throughout the awards ceremony, some kids were hanging their heads, thinking we hadn’t won anything.”
“There were tears in people’s eyes. It really could have been a sporting event.”
Fisher says the goal is to ultimately prepare the kids in the Jr. Robotics program for a future career in the new wave of smart electronics.
“With athletics, only a handful of kids end up going pro. But with robotics, all these kids can turn pro,” Fisher said. “All these kids can become future engineers.”
According to Fisher, by the time kids reach high school in a traditional sport like soccer, they might literally be experts, with up to 10,000 contact hours in their sport. However, with robotics, kids might never have touched a robot before high school.
“Our ultimate goal is to shift the balance to these other academic areas as well, especially to underrepresented demographics like young girls and economically disadvantaged kids,” Fisher said.
He also understands the importance of kids’ impact.
“Our goal is to help individuals, our local community and ultimately end up helping our country by encouraging these kids now.”
Rockwall Jr. Robotics is a program of Rockwall Robotics Corporation, a non-profit organization supporting the Rockwall High School Robotics team. The mission of the Rockwall Jr. Robotics Program is to establish a passion for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) through year-round coaching, competition, camps, field trips, and other educational experiences focused on Robotics. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Abbie Killian, Blue Ribbon News intern/reporter and rising junior at the University of Missouri, working towards a Bachelor in journalism with an emphasis in Strategic Communication and Public Relations.
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