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Gateway to Technology: Building Robots at the Fulton Junior High School

Technology classes at the Fulton Junior High School are in for a real jolt! Starting in January eighth grade students will be building robots.

The unit in Robotics will span 10-weeks and is part Gateway to Technology, a nationwide feeder program for Project Lead the Way.

PLTW introduces high school students at G. Ray Bodley to various areas of engineering study, allowing students to explore several career paths while earning college credits.

A special component of the GTT program through PLTW is a focus on independent learning, collaboration, and cooperative problem solving.

At the junior high school, GTT and the Robotics unit will give students an opportunity to apply their understanding of real-world technologies and will also allow students to show creativity in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math.

Working in groups of two to four, students will engineer Robots using Vex Robotic Kits.

Like an amped-up version erector sets that many adults remember from their childhood, thousand-piece Vex Kits include all of the necessary hardware as well as motors and sensors to assemble a unique robot.

Once built, the fun begins and students will be able to program their robot to perform a specific task by writing code using a programming language known as ROBOTC and then test the code’s success.

In preparation for the Robotics unit, students in Patrick Armet, David Derouchie, and Jesse Weigand’s technology classes are culminating a unit on measuring, precision measuring specifically. In addition the students have been studying inventions and the evolution of science in such industries as the automobile and music industry.

Projects in electricity, aviation, and experience using Inventor Computer-Aided Design Software along with an upcoming ‘maglev’ or magnetic levitation project are getting the students prepped for the upcoming unit.

According to Technology teacher Patrick Armet the Robotics unit will provide “endless learning.”

Similar to the evolutions of many inventions and industries in the modern world, Armet said, “The Robotics students will explore how to improve their invention and how to evolve their robot to complete more tasks.”

The 2013-14 school year is a pilot year for GTT at the Fulton Junior High School.

Technology teachers at the school hope that GTT will lead to more collaboration between math, science and technology and also lead to the creation of a school robotics team that would compete in robotics competitions.