McKINNEY (April 13, 2015) — Operating a robot is not as easy as it seems, and the efforts of the Finch Elementary second graders gathered around the mini “robot arena” in Pam McBride’s classroom at McKinney High School (MNS) are keeping Ancel Furlow busy.

Furlow, a junior at MHS and a member of the school’s First Robotics Competition (FRC) team, darts about righting toppled machines and untangling the chaos of six, wheeled robots being driven by novices. Furlow is getting a work out, but his young guests are having a blast.

Students in Ricardo Jaramillo's second grade class from Finch Elementary School try out some of the robots built by Pam McBride's students at McKinney High School.

Students in Ricardo Jaramillo's second grade class from Finch Elementary School try out some of the robots built by Pam McBride's students at McKinney High School./p>

 

It’s all part of a day that is designed to inspire young minds as the students from Finch rotate through this and three other learning stations which include a demonstration of the school’s FRC robot, a general overview of the robotics field and an introduction to 3-D printing.

“It’s National Robotics Week,” says McBride, as she looks on. “We’re trying to start a program of robotics at Finch Elementary with our FIRST robotics teams. So, we thought this would be a good launch. Most of the Finch students will come to McKinney High School, so this way they get a head start before they get here. They see what it’s about and get excited about it.”

The MHS FRC team are the perfect group to serve as guides. Earlier this month, they notched fifth place finishes among a large field of competitors at both the Dallas and Regional FRC events, and they are enthusiastic about passing along what they’ve learned.

 

 

MHS senior Andrew Mobley, who serves as FRC team captain, says that the goal is about more than simply creating a steady stream of new students into the program – although that is important, too.

“This is huge for us as a team and as a community because this really is the future of engineering,” Mobley says, gesturing toward a group of Finch students working on iPads.

McKinney High School First Robotics Team Captain Andrew Mobley guides second graders from Finch Elementary School as they explore the variety of uses for robots in today's world.

McKinney High School First Robotics Team Captain Andrew Mobley guides second graders from Finch Elementary School as they explore the variety of uses for robots in today's world.

 

“We want to go ahead and get these kids interested early, so they understand the importance of what they’re learning,” adds Mobley. “For me, going through middle school, I asked, ‘Why do I need to know any of this? I’m not going to use it.’ This is where you use it. So, showing them that math and science and even English and history are all important in something really cool [like robotics] helps them get pumped up for learning,” Mobley said.

They’re pretty pumped up when Mobley introduces them to the large competition robot that is designed to lift, stack and move recycling boxes and trash cans. The kids gather around Mobley and lean in as he points out design details and discusses some of the challenges the team faced while building the robot. He shows them parts that were designed and printed on the 3-D printers the students saw in action earlier that morning. He demonstrates how the robot works.

One thing becomes clear: If operating a robot can be tricky, designing one is exponentially more difficult. But judging from the expressions on many of these young faces, they’re not intimidated by the challenge.

They just want to get their hands on a pile of parts – and start building the future.

For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Coordinator, at 469-302-4007 or smauldin@mckinneyisd.net.

 

About McKinney ISD

One of the fastest growing school districts in Texas, the McKinney Independent School District currently enrolls more than 24,750 students in 20 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, four alternative schools and one early childhood education school. The mission of McKinney ISD, the champion for progressive learning throughout the diverse McKinney community, is to inspire and equip all students to explore, develop and express their unique potential as innovators, critical thinkers and collaborators through challenging, engaging and diverse learning experiences in vital partnership with the community. Visit the district's website at mckinneyisd.net.