Georgia College Kicking Off Robotics Program for Middle Schoolers

Georgia students in grades 5 through 8 will have the chance to compete in an upcoming robotics challenge, under a new program just launched by Georgia Highlands College (GHC).

The Charger Robotics program will enable teams of students to compete in the upcoming 100 Scholars First Lego League Regional competition on Dec. 16 at Atlanta Metropolitan State College. The competition will engage some 750 teams from various locations across the state.

"Robotics is a great opportunity to teach STEM in a fun and engaging way," said Dean of Natural Science and Physical Education Greg Ford in a press release. "Students learn programming basics, about the technology behind the physical robot, engineering and design practices, and mathematics to control how the robot moves and interacts with objects."

GHC serves more than 6,000 students in Northwest Georgia and Northeast Alabama across five locations in Rome, Cartersville, Marietta, Dallas, and Douglasville. The school offers 30 areas of study with associate degree and bachelor's degree options.

Co-sponsors on the robotics program include The 100 Black Men of Northwest Georgia and Kemet Robotics. The GHC-STEM Initiative grant supports the program as a means of outreach to engage future STEM students.

The program will encompass some 21 middle school students from all across Northwest Georgia, the school said. They'll come together in an all-day event set to include a project presentation based on the theme of "Hydrodynamics," a poster competition, and a series of problem-solving missions.

"The robots are engineered to complete the missions using Lego parts. If the teams are successful, they will have the opportunity to compete in the state competition in January," Ford said.

The teams are learning a range of engineering principles, working with motors and sensors, building lift mechanisms, robot claws and levers that will attach and detach to accomplish specific missions.

"The big idea is to grow the STEM workforce in the region to fill the high demand for a well-educated 21st century STEM workforce," Ford said. "When students are exposed to STEM early and often, there is a greater chance they will choose a STEM discipline in college. With five locations across Northwest Georgia, GHC has a fantastic opportunity to really promote STEM and impact each student's future."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.