Westhill's robotics class and its associated club further promote STEM education at Westhill High School. In this class and club students build robots. A robot contains mechanical parts including gears, motors, sensors etc. It also has electrical components and a computer to control it. Students can program a robot in computer languages like Java or C. A robot is capable of performing a variety of tasks according to instructions created using a computer programming language. In this class/club students actively engage in designing, building, programming, and problem solving using higher order critical thinking skills.
This is a full year course during which students spend lots of time brainstorming and developing robots according to First Tech Challenge (FTC) specifications. Class and club members then use the robots they create to participate in a FTC robotics competition. Students use a 3D-printer to print the robot's components. Students can use C or OnBot Java to program their robots.
Overall, students spend a minimum of 70% of class time conducting activities relating to building a robot. Most of these activities are inquiry-based, in which students are provided an opne-ended question along with a set of materials that can be used to investigate and solve a problem. In this way, students participate in activities that guide them to acquire higher-level thinking skills such as hypothesis development, critical thinking, design data analysis error analysis, how to reach and justify conclusions, and how to redesign an experiment based on their results.
Students are required to record all their observations, data, data analysis and conclusions in a journal.
For information about the timing and structure of the FTC competitions that our school attends, please contact the instructor.
To get a sense of what these competitions look like, check out the video, above.