By Sue Jean Hong, Principal at Ánimo Inglewood Charter High School
In South LA, technology-fueled educational opportunities can be few and far between. However, Green Dot schools Ánimo Inglewood Charter High School, Ánimo Pat Brown Charter High School, Ánimo Leadership Charter High School, and Alain Leroy Locke College Preparatory Academy are doing just that. By involving students in challenging, engaging, and educational robotics programs that grows students’ innovation and dedication.
Build a Bot
This year, almost 150 students are designing and building their own robots to compete against each other on Thursday, April 28th at an annual competition—hosted this year by Ánimo Pat Brown Charter High School. For the last few months, the students have been hard at work creating autonomous robots that can locate a target (in this case, any one of several ping pong balls), collect it, and throw it into an opponent robot’s field. Students feverishly design and build robots in class, as well as before and after school, when teachers have chosen to host frequent extra work time.
Robotics teachers like Tom Rice at Ánimo Inglewood Charter High School go beyond basic expectations to do this because they are passionate about the opportunities robotics give their students. As Rice says,
It teaches a huge gamut of soft skills that are going to be crucial moving forward into the 21st Century… students are working together, they’re having to make decisions, they’re working on long-term projects, and they’re learning through failure because oftentimes the things that they do don’t work out.
Though students may fail, many view trial and error as their favorite part of class. At the end of a long road, students gain perspective and show the ingenuity and perseverance needed to succeed in college, leadership, and life. As Melissa Guzman, a student in Rice’s classroom says,
In normal classrooms you know about failures through tests, but actually building something and messing up—you’re able to understand why you did it, and form a plan in which you can fix that issue, so you learn to problem-solve much better.
Our students in robotics are passionate about technology, and by exploring it at school, they can be best prepared for the challenges they may face in college and later in life.
Support a Winner
Programs like robotics require expertise, materials, and supplies that cannot always be covered by a public school’s budget, especially in historically low-income communities. You can support the robotics students, like Melissa, at Ánimo Inglewood by donating to their fundraising campaign for supplies and materials. Even a small donation can provide opportunities for students to have a chance, not available otherwise, to contextualize concepts they are learning in the classroom with career-aligned projects that literally bring technology to life.
Your support can make the difference for a student like Melissa, who could use the extra robotics gear to help her team win at this year’s competition! Most importantly, help the robotics program by sharing your support and a link to the campaign page on Facebook or Twitter.