In its fourth year, the Robotics Academy in Graham is staying strong while promoting interest in science.


The academy was created by Mitzi Morrison, academy director, and co-director Mike Winslow, who has a Ph.D. in engineering management, and was designed on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) principles. Additionally, the academy is officially accredited by the Texas Computer Education Association


“Robotics is designed to integrate each one of those into the program,” Morrison said. “Computer programing goes with engineering, math and the robots. It’s a technology driven society and you’re going to have to use all of these in the future.”


Geared for students in grades five through eight, the academy, which kicks off in the fall after school, teaches students STEM and fosters logical thinking by way of developing programs for a robot. Current robots in the academy have upgraded from the Mindstorm NXT models to the EV3 models, which offer more features for students, Morrison said.


“The new EV3 talks to you, and it’s a step up in technology,” she said. 


Morrison said that the academy also fosters problem solving skills by allowing students to create their own robots and programs.


”It’s good for critical thinking because every time the kids come they have to solve a problem,” she said. “(Whether or not) their computer program is wrong, or if it’s their design or strategy.”


She also added that after a student builds a robot, they must run it through an obstacle course.

“(Students must) create, program and (use a) strategy to complete those obstacles, and all those things are implemented in the program,” she said.


A second purpose of the academy is to help students gain an interest in science. 


“The lack of interest in science is increasing,” Morrison said. “You can promote all kinds of science in robotics, even physics.”


Both Wilson and Morrison aim to put a positive impact on science education through the Robotics Academy.

 

From September to January three days a week in the academy, students learn programming, the parts of a robot and how to build their robots. Constructed robots include a sound-activated dog, miniature cranes and remote controlled robot cars. 


The academy, however, doesn’t stop when school ends; it offers a summer program in which students can learn even more about robotics before September. 


The summer program takes place from 9:30 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Faith Center through August and is still accepting students. To join, call Morrison at (940) 456-1960.


Read more in Sunday's Graham Leader.