Huddled around boxes of Legos and computers, Reiffton students were building their brains–as well as their coding and engineering skills–as they took part in the school’s Robotics club after school today. Thanks to a generous grant from the Exeter Community Education Foundation, who provided the Lego kits and accompanying computer programs, twenty Reiffton students were randomly chosen to be a part of the 10-week program that offers STEM-based after-school learning to interested students who volunteered to solve problems through building contraptions and coding small motors to make their Legos come to life. In one corner of the room, a team of girls designed a robotic hand that they had coded to open and close, gleefully holding up a bottle of hand sanitizer once they had figured out the correct code and configuration to make the Lego “fingers” move. In another group, a team of boys were designing a motorcycle-like car that could zoom along their desk.
To round out the club, other students were working on STEM-based learning projects, such as applying engineering principles to build a 3-foot high suspension bridge out of thin and bendy K’Nex sticks that was strong enough to hold a book when they placed it on top. Other students were huddled around a desk showing each other tips on how to use Scratch, an introductory visual-based coding-based program that allows them to create interactive stories, games and animations.
Despite all of the different projects going on in the classroom this afternoon, the students all shared the same energetic enthusiasm for tapping into their brains to solve problems–even after a full day of school. “This is awesome,” said Connor Funk as he was building his Lego set. “I love getting my energy out and showing what I’m building to my friends.” Leena Biratate agreed, and said that the club was helping her think about what she wanted to do when she grows up. “I think I want to be a software engineer,” she said as she plugged code into the computer, helping her team figure out how to make their Legos come to life.
We are so grateful to the ECEF for funding this awesome after-school opportunity for our students, and look forward to seeing what amazing things they build and learn over the next 8 weeks!