Students at Trident Academy are participating in a multi-sensory class project that allows them to build and test robots. Technology Director Marc Simpson says allowing students to create their own robots helps them understand the process of trial and error by engaging them on multiple levels.
“With robots, students really learn to use the information given to them,” Simpson said. “What may look right on the computer may be not have the intended result when downloaded to the actual robot. What is cool about robots is that we translate a virtual world into the physical world.”
Ninth grader Gregory Sullivan enjoys testing his robots for errors.
“I found it interesting how the robot reacted to different things. I liked seeing how changing one thing made a big difference,” Sullivan said.
Students began the course with exercises that allowed them to act like robots so they could understand the limits to a robot’s information.
“A robot is just a number cruncher. I made the students act like robots to demonstrate that they are the ones with the knowledge, the robot only does what it is told to do,” Simpson said.
The project takes about nine weeks to complete, but throughout the time period, students have deadlines for specific events. One event is called The Firing Range, where students design their robots to either shoot or knock something down. Students are given specific orders to try on the robots in order to think critically and find a solution.
Ninth grader Garry Weatherford found that exactly following the directions helps create the strongest robot.
“I learned how to put on the shooter correctly by following the directions step-by-step,” Weatherford said. “It feels pretty good to say I built my own robot.”
Simpson aims for students to realize that learning from one’s mistakes is a huge part of developmental progress.
“Building a robot has taught me that you have to keep with it until you make it work,” Weatherford said.