The mission of Streamworks is to develop the future workforce by providing them with the skills they will need for success. We found one of the most beneficial and effective ways to do this is to promote robotics programs while mentoring and guiding competitive robotics teams. Being on a robotics team not only introduces the youth to science and technology but also instills characteristics within them that will benefit them in any future job they choose. On a robotics team members have to strategize how to complete the mission as well as the most efficient way to complete this task. Students will have to plan and organize a project management system by creating deadlines and dividing up the tasks between members. By experimenting with the different tasks on a robotics team, students can begin to compute their interests which aids them in choosing a future career. In addition, working collaboratively with other students teaches them communication, problem-solving, and leadership skills. Robotics programs can stimulate a student’s full potential by simulating a real-world work environment combined with competition. However, many of these robotics programs can be expensive with some registration fees being up to $6,000. STREAMWORKS wants to develop these programs as well as making them affordable for all participants as we believe every student should have an equal opportunity despite their financial situation. 

How Has Robotics Impacted Students?

Hands on learning has been proven to aid students in grasping what they are taught in the classroom. A study compared the tests of 8th graders. Half of the students engaged in hands-on learning and the other half did not. The students who did not engage in hands-on learning were 1.5 times more likely to fail then the students who did. It is evident that there is a trend between performance and hands-on learning. Through robotics programs students are able to apply the knowledge in class to real-world applications. In addition, further research has discovered ,”Educational robotics has been shown to support applied mathematics and physical science learning as well as problem solving.” Students learn the engineering design process as they brainstorm, sketch, and purpose ideas to the rest of the group. Students apply their math skills when budgeting, fundraising, programming, measuring, etc. Lastly, students integrate many physics principles and other physical sciences when creating a robot. Furthermore, robotics takes learning to the next level as students are able to apply what they have learned. This improves a students overall performance in school as well as helps develop essential skills they will need for future careers. However, building a robot isn’t the only part of our robotics programs. In both MATE and Robot Drone League students have to write up a technical document/ engineering notebook explaining their team’s approach to the problem and an explanation of their design. In addition, both of our robotics programs include an engineering presentation teaching students presentation and communication skills. These presentations also allow teams to share their accomplishments and product with other people. Even for students not wanting to go into science or math related fields there are many other opportunities. There are members who are in charge of fundraising and budgeting money, community outreach, social media, graphic design, etc. The possibilities of what you can learn and the accomplishments you achieve are endless.

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Personal Experience

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My name is Makaila Freeman, I have been an intern at STREAMWORKS for about two years and robotics has given me an outlet where I have reached potential that I never thought I could reach. I grew up with a single mom who struggled financially and only a handful of people in my family have gone to college. Most of my family members are coal miners in Virginia so my dream to become an engineer took my family by surprise. I would be the first in my family to pursue a STEM career and with no advice or guidance I was unsure on how I was going to reach my goal. Growing up, math and science were always my favorite subjects in school. I was that kid that asked for a microscope for Christmas, memorized the constellations, and performed my own science experiments. However, I never really had an outlet to apply my knowledge or develop new skills to help me succeed. Then in my freshman year of highschool I found the activity I was looking for, robotics. I joined my school’s new underwater robotics team (MATE). Through robotics I learned how to use Computer-aided-design softwares to develop 3D designs, how to use power tools and basic mechanics principles, how to implement electronics, and even basic programming. But most importantly I learned how to lead. Through this experience I learned what qualities make up a good leader. I figured out the ability to lead is one of my biggest strengths and without robotics I would have never discovered these qualities.  My team went to the World Championships in Seattle, Washington competing against teams from all over the globe. We were even one of the first underwater robotics teams in the state of Tennessee. I have been appointed the CEO of my team and was recognized for my accomplishments by receiving the Twenty under Twenty award in 2019. In addition, I received this internship at STREAMWORKS giving these opportunities to kids like me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without robotics and working at STREAMWORKS has made me realize any kid can succeed if you give them the opportunity. 

Our Initiatives

At STREAMWORKS we offer two robotics programs. Robot Drone League or RDL and MATE underwater robotics. In both programs teams can either be community based or through a school (anyone can form a team). STREAMWORKS will provide the mentorship and guidance from our interns who have had prior experience on robotics teams and have participated in these programs. In addition, we offer many robotics camps over the summer to help develop skills in CAD, computer science, electronics, and mechanics. We also host many teacher workshops that way mentors get to experience the program for themselves and are able to help their team succeed to the best of their ability. There are also hours of online learning content in our robotics initiatives so teams can access this information even if they don’t leave near one of our Streamworks facilities. If you are interested in any of our robotics programs go to the programs tab on our homepage. Summer STEM and Robotics camps information will be coming up soon. 

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Sources

Is Hands-On Learning Better? (2020, May 14). Retrieved August 30, 2020, from https://www.byf.org/news-item/is-hands-on-learning-better/

Ortiz, Araceli Martinez, et al. “The power of educational robotics as an integrated STEM learning experience in teacher preparation programs.” Journal of College Science Teaching, vol. 44, no. 5, May-June 2015, p. 42+. Gale In Context: Science, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A498581728/SCIC?u=tel_k_dobyns&sid=SCIC&xid=e159d041. Accessed 30 Aug. 2020.

 

Article Written by: Makaila Freeman