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stemroboticsEDWARDSVILLE — The “STEM Meets Humanities” initiative’s robotics program kicked off its four-week summer program on Tuesday. The program will last until Thursday, July 12, and will teach local elementary and middle school students fundamental computer science and engineering skills, as well as how they can utilize robotic technology to enhance quality of life.

“I am thrilled to provide an opportunity for participants to not only build a rover from scratch, but to learn and understand how each part functions together to create an amazing tool that is used in real world engineering and scientific initiatives,” said Candi Johnson, “STEM Meets Humanities” program coordinator.

The student participants of the program reside in four Madison County Housing site, including the Gateway Apartments in Madison, Meachum Crossing in Venice, Woodland Park in Collinsville, and Alton Pointe in Alton, Ill. Johnson and her team of volunteers will meet with each site once per week, totaling four, two hour sessions per group.

“It’s exciting to see this program come to life. The students will learn concepts of goal setting, problem solving and critical thinking that they can apply to all aspects of their lives,” said Scott Fitzgerald, Southwest Airlines Pilot and Robotics program volunteer.

On the first day, the students will be introduced to the rover curriculum and will work in teams to build a rover by hand. While working on the rover throughout the summer, students will learn real world rover examples, the basics of simple electrical circuits, the engineering design process, and teamwork skills. Once the students have successfully built their rover, they will have the opportunity to practice driving it around the MCHA grounds.
On the second day, students will learn how to install a video system. The system can be used to remotely drive the rover, allowing the participants to see where it is going when it is in a separate location than the driver. Students will then do a scavenger hunt around MCHA grounds to practice their skills with the video system. To further show how a rover can be an extension of one’s senses, students will get the opportunity to drive the rover using virtual reality goggles. On the third day, students will use mission planning software to plan missions and further understand their surroundings. They will then install autopilot on the rovers and practice plotting a course that the rovers will drive automatically.

On the final day of the program, the students will review all content covered over the past three weeks and use this knowledge to complete a final mission—engineer a delivery system to safely deliver a package to a space station on Mars. The students will work together in teams to solve the problem, construct a solution, and complete the mission successfully.

“The Robotics Program and the other “STEM Meets Humanities” programs are such exciting opportunities for the youth in Madison County,” said Ed Hightower, Executive Director of the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities Foundation. “This kind of learning is fundamental for these kids and instills goals and values in them at a young age, so that they will work hard for a bright, successful future.”

The Alma Irene Aitch STEM Center, located at 1310 N. Main Street in Edwardsville, Ill., is home to the “STEM Meets Humanities” programming. The other programs include the Urban Gardening program, Math Games League, and the Digital Humanities Club. The programming is provided through the partnership of the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities Foundation, Lewis and Clark Community College, SIUE College of Arts and Sciences and its IRIS Center for the Digital Humanities, the SIUE STEM Center, the Madison County Regional Office of Education, Madison County Community Development, and local schools districts.

For more information on the Robotics program or the other “STEM Meets Humanities” program, please visit http://www.mjchf.org/page/stem-meets-humanities-new/ or call 618-655-2881.