Monday, September 16, 2013
The Westminster College Drinko Center for Experiential Learning is implementing a new after-school robotics program in collaboration with the West Middlesex School District, Cray Challenges, and Origins.
"Transformers: Mentoring through Robotics" is designed to improve local middle school students' 21st century skills through the use of Lego Mindstorm Robots. The robots, along with Westminster College students, help to encourage and build confidence in the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).
Each week Westminster College student mentors will work with the middle school students to solve and complete challenges with their robots. These tasks help prepare students for their futures by encouraging them to use real life problem-solving skills and collaborative learning.
"The local children that are exposed to the program are not your ‘typical' students. All of the children are exceptional and unique in their own way. You need to work closely with them, while trying to express similarities between the child and yourself," said Aaron Vannatter, a former student mentor.
"By doing this, you will become attached to the children. It will be time for the program to come to a close before you know it, and you will have a hard time leaving your group, just as I did. I try to coach, mentor, and teach youth around me whenever possible. I do this because children are great imitators of those who surround them, so we need to give them something great to imitate."
Vannatter, a junior biology major, is a son of Christina Cruz of Ashtabula, Ohio, and a graduate of Geneva High School.
All Westminster students are welcome to be a mentor during the fall and upcoming spring semester. No prior knowledge in robotics, math, or science is needed in order to participate in the program. An informational meeting will be held Tuesday, September 17, at 12:45 p.m. in the Drinko Center Conference Room on the third floor of Patterson Hall. Free pizza will be provided.
"Through the direction of Dr. Terri Lenox, professor of computer science and chair of the Mathematics and Computer Science Dept., and Katie Gray, previous Americorps PACC-VISTA in the Drinko Center, the Transformers program has been a success for the past two years," said Marah Alouise, new Americorps PACC-VISTA. "As this third year continues, Dr. Lenox and I will strive to encourage more Westminster students to take part in the program."