Roxbury High School took their ‘Hour of Code’ to a whole new level last week. In an effort to expand the minds of students and get them interested in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math), the Roxbury High School Robotix team along with members from Roxbury’s Gaelvision teamed up to hold a Makerfair in the Media Center at the high school with more than 400 students passing through throughout the week.
Leaders and members of the robotics team organized and sponsored this event with the support of Roxana Caivano, the media specialist at Roxbury High School and Gaelvision.
Lee Hayden, Roxbury High School robotics advisor and teacher explained the decision to hold an event like this, “We felt that the student body is generally unaware of all the technology activities, both curricular and extra-curricular, available to them at the high school and specifically within the fields of programming and robotics. This event gives them the chance to get interested.”
Roxbury High School offers computer science courses, engineering courses, and robotics electives in addition to the Robotix club and Gaelvision. “The programming, robotics, and engineering design topics shown at the fair are the basis of many STEM-oriented courses taught at the high school. The district’s motto, ‘preparing the children of today for tomorrow’ certainly comes to mind,” added Hayden.
The Makerfair provided numerous stations set up in the media center for students to come see and try out during their lunch and VIP (variable instructional period) periods. One section included LittleBits, K’Nex, and Lego construction where students could build their own robot or other mechanized device. One student was building an amusement park out of K’Nex while others just had fun tinkering with the Legos.
“When the students first came in and saw all the Legos, their eyes just lit up,” shared Caivano.
Hi-tech gadgets were also available to test drive like Google Home and virtual reality headsets. A programmable drone was a new addition and available for students to test fly. The drone was new to the robotics elective this year. “Students will likely have it programmed to fly autonomously by the end of the year,” said Hayden.
The Makerfair also hit on the “A” in STEAM, by using CAD design and the 3D printer, where students could design keychains and print something on the spot using the robotic team’s Makerbot printer. Keychains printed on the 3D printer took about 20 minutes each to create.
Even more electronics were on display at the Makerfair, new and old. The robotics class built and programmed VEX robots which students could play with and control. The RHS Robotics team even allowed students to drive their competition robot from last year and see the programming behind it.
“The kids loved playing with it and watching it throw balls,” commented Caivano.
Hayden added, “The FRC robot and the drone were probably the biggest hits. Having a machine fly around the media center and a machine shoot wiffle balls straight up two stories are definitely crowd pleasers, although the virtual reality headsets and Google Home were big hits as well.”
Students even had the ability to check out ‘old tech’ including old laptops, phones, and gaming stations like Atari.
With technology ever changing, the need for computer programmers is ever growing. The Makerfair provided students the opportunity to create apps for android devices using Appinventor and java programming.
“We hope to get the students interested in STEM and understand that anyone can do it. Makerspace and makerfairs make learning about experimentation and learning by doing. STEM is a focus in the school now, so this is a perfect match. The students love it! They think they’re playing, but they’re actually learning,” explained Caivano.
Gaelvision also brought in their unique vision that allowed their peers to play with green screen technology while the Makerfair was streamed live in the media center all week.
Roxbury’s Makerfair provided students the chance to interact with items they never used or seen before, like robotics and virtual reality headsets. The STEM related coursework and activities students can participate in at Roxbury High School are countless.
Caivano expressed the greatest hope from this event by saying, “There have been several students who have expressed interest in signing up for the robotics class next year after seeing what they do.”