By Morgan Taylor, Reporter
WILSON, Oklahoma – Wilson Public Schools has offered a robotics program to their middle and high school students for years now. In recent years, the program has opened up to students as young as kindergarten.
According to WPS Counselor and mentor for the program Kaci El Far, students can participate in the program from K-12th grade. The beginning stage of the program is called Junior Lego League.
“Junior Legos starts in kindergarten to second grade,” El Far explains. “The kids do exercises on the computer and tablet where they learn to code things. We start this by helping them to map out which direction they would take a(n) (imaginary) robot. They then enter it into the tablet using the coding skills.”
Once coded, the kid’s build a robot out of Legos using kits that provide all the equipment needed including a small motor to power the robot.
“This year, our task was to build an exercise machine like in a gym,” El Far said. “They built the machine and used Legos to make the architecture around it, then they coded it all and the whole exercise machine ran on its own.”
In the Junior Lego League, students learn everything needed to know to advance to Lego League, which is third through eighth grade.
“In Lego League, the task is to build a whole robot out of Legos,” El Far said. “They will take that robot to a competition where the robot has to perform movements.”
Using coding, the students in the Lego League can tell the robot what to do and what movements to make depending on what the competition requires.
The final step of the program is Robotics offered to students ninth through twelfth grade.
“In Robotics, students have to build a robot completely from scratch with no Legos at all,” El Far explained. “They use tools, power equipment, and safety equipment.”
The Robotics team takes the finished product to compete with other schools to perform a set of tasks.
“In previous years, they have had the robot shoot a ball into a hoop, construct a crane from the robot that lifts and pulls itself up,” El Far said. “The robots can way upwards of fifty pounds so they really have to use their brains to figure out how to get the robot to use all the pulleys, levers, and connect it to the computer and drivers that control it.”
Due to the pandemic, the teams have not been able to compete but hope for next year according to El Far. “Robotics has to send in a video of what they have done and make a flyer for this year.”
Wilson offers this as an extra curricular to students. The school uses the Fridays off for the students to come in and participate in this program.
“The robotics level students are working around their schedules that include work and sports to be able to participate in the program,” El Far said.
MCN citizen and student Serenity El Far is in second grade and apart of the Junior Legos team.
“I like when we did the crane last year,” Serenity said. “I want to do this for a long time.”
El Far believes that Wilson is the only school in the county that offers the FIRST League program to all divisions.
The FIRST Lego League is founded and sponsored by Lego. It promotes students to use science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through hands on learning.