What About Robotics?

March 30, 2010
By unclejoe BRONZE, Williamsburg, Virginia
unclejoe BRONZE, Williamsburg, Virginia
4 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Everybody likes robots, right? But how many kids get the chance to design and build their own robot? With new programs and different divisions starting up every year, there is something for everyone. Kids from kindergarten to high school get involved in robotics, and learn valuable life lessons as well as hone their science and technology skills. With today’s tough and constantly changing workforce, the next generation needs whatever edge they can get. Robotics helps provide that edge, and in robotics, it is not just about robot building. Kids learn everything from programming to 3-D computer-aided design, to fundraising, to journal writing and computer graphics, and even robot decorating—this is hands-on experiential learning at its best!

So what is it that draws thousands of students to robotics? What is so alluring about spending anywhere from a couple hours, to all your extra time on a machine? What would compel a student to spend hour after hour tinkering on a robot, developing code, designing and redesigning, building, destroying and rebuilding, and even trying to find that elusive sponsor?

For some, it’s the fame and glory that attracts them, but for most, it’s the experience and the lessons learned along the way. Over a season that stretches from three to nine months, students learn vital and valuable life skills that will serve them throughout the duration of their life. For many, this is merely the stepping stone to more possibilities. If you are considering a future in any kind of engineering, science, or math field, robotics is a great place to start. Even if you’re interests lie elsewhere, it is a great experience where everyone learns something. Perhaps the most valuable thing learned is teamwork. Many companies look for employees with at least a little experience on a team—robotics will provide you with this one-up on you’re resume.

Robotics can amazingly transform to fit your needs. Virtually all the variables depend on what team you join, which league you enter, and how many competitions you attend. With team members from ages six to eighteen, team sizes ranging anywhere from one to one hundred, meeting times from once every other week to sometimes every day for six weeks, and team budgets from $200 to more than $100,000, you can find or start a team to suit your needs and interests. Competition opportunities also abound enabling teams to qualify for higher levels if they desire.

Every year, challenges are released for each competition, with anywhere from six weeks to six months to build. After that, you hit the road and start competing. The first time you see other robots is usually at your regional competition. After this, a variety of competitions are available—most of which qualify your team for a higher level. The highest team honor is to qualify for an invitation to the International World Competition—a gathering of the best teams from around the world, each with a robot developed over the season, and each hoping to claim the honor of being the winner, and thus the best team in the whole world.

While many teams never make it as far as World's, just the experience and the knowledge that you can say, “Yes, I know how to build a robot," and "Yes, I can work on a team,” will follow you everywhere you go. In fact, companies look for teamwork experience. As the times change, it is harder to get opportunities to have experience on a team. Robotics provides not only a venue to work on a team, but also valuable experience with technical subjects and the whole engineering process.

So now you know a little more about robotics and how you can change the world. We are hoping new teams will start all across the country, providing kids from varying backgrounds with the valuable experience they'll need. If you are interested in starting a team and you are interested in robotics, or even if you just want to support a local team, please do not hesitate to email twistedbotz@gmail.com. You can also visit us online at twistedbotz.org. We look forward to working with you, and hope to see you at an upcoming robotics competition!

The author's comments:
I have been doing robotics for 3 years now, and it has really opened my eyes to what kinds of jobs I want to get. It is really competitive, and I really want to see every kid have the chance to do something they like.

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This article has 1 comment.

Misty said...
on Apr. 7 2010 at 6:22 pm
Thank you for sharing this article. The passion you have for robotics along with your experience is most inviting. May you continue to pursue your dreams and keep on writing. 

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