St. Michael School has developed a dedicated robotics curriculum in our new school-wide STEM initiative. Our robotics curriculum is designed to teach the engineering design process used by scientists and engineers in the real world. Younger students, beginning in second grade, learn simple computer coding and progress to building and coding larger, more sophisticated robots. Beginning with simple movements based on motor rotation, they then progress into using light, gyroscopic, touch and ultrasonic sensors to provide the robot with feedback about its surroundings. The students culminate these studies with a final engineering project such as a line-following race, an autonomous vacuum cleaner or simulated Mars missions. Throughout the process, students gain and use knowledge of science, technology, and mathematics as they engineer workable solutions. The robotics curriculum is designed to help develop the creative-thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, and communication skills required for success in school and life.
To extend our robots/STEM curriculum, the school formed a competitive Saints Robotics Team composed of sixth, seventh and eighth grade students. Some of the benefits of having a robotics competition team are the same as any extracurricular activity: social development, teamwork, improving self-esteem, giving students a sense of belonging, and an opportunity for creativity and success.
The Robotics Team must work as a team to design, build, and program a robot to complete timed missions. Not only are students responsible for all aspects of project planning and preparing for the competition, but students must think on their feet and work together to develop solutions. This teaches students what it’s like to work as a team to creatively solve problems under the pressure of a looming deadline. In addition to the ‘Robot Game’, the competition includes an engineering research project based on real world problems as well as a teamwork component.
Our Robotics Team competes in the FIRST LEGO League global competition with 680,000 participants from over 110 countries. In the past, our teams have competed in regional competitions in Lafayette, state competitions in New Orleans and a global competition in San Diego, CA. Our team also competes in the National World War Two Museum’s Robotics Challenge in New Orleans. Saints Robotics has been very successful as our teams have won many awards for robot design and programming, teamwork, and innovative design projects, as well as overall champion awards.