WAYLAND-COHOCTON - Schools always look for new and creative ways to interact with their children and make sure they push the boundaries of their intellect. Eight years ago the Wayland-Cohocton Middle school did that by creating a Lego Robotics Club.
This club teaches the children simple robotics by giving them problems to solve. The children must then deign, build and program a Lego robot to solve that problem.
Co-founder Melonie Coley stated "We started with (this) program because it was affordable, but also competitive and we could go out with our kids and compete. We have always had really bright classes and we needed a new form of enrichment at (the Middle School) level."
The competitions Coley spoke of are part of, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST. This organization creates new problems and themes each year that the teams will have to overcome. Culminating in a competition that pits the schools teams from all over against each other on how well their design works.
Middle School team member Dillin Quackenbush talked about his experiences so far and the problem that they have had to over come.
"I have to say programming the robot has been the most challenging. I mean you try something and if that doesn't work you have to come back and keep doing it again until you get it right, and thats just for one thing. So it takes a long time."
Instilling problem solving and thinking outside the box is just one of the benefits the Robotics Club has brought to these children. With team work and public speaking during competitions, it has increased the social aspect within the kids as well.
8th grader Everett Davidson from the High School team mentioned, "Before I joined, I couldn't have said a word in public. But now, last year, I pulled off a 15 min speech when I was only needed to be five in History (class)."
Jett Mendurm Middle School team member talked about the team aspect. "We usual try to combining ideas, but sometimes we do just one at a time. If they both work, it doesn't matter, they both work, so we agree as a team on who's to use and maybe use the other guys idea next time."
Coley added "This club is great for all these students, now they have a social group. Some do play soccer, but others had no groups that they interacted with all the time, and now they do, its just great for them."
Wayland-Cohocton has only had a Middle School club in the past, however the continued interest from the kids that have grown up in this program, has made the school push for this years first High School level Robotics Club.
Philip Groshner, the clubs oldest member added "What really intrigues me is that the NXT that I have been using for years in the Middle School program is adaptable with (the High School) model as well. It made me realize that their is more to this then what I thought."
The growth of the Wayland-Cohocton Robotics Club to a High School level has more then just continued to push the kids intellectual progress. But it has now created a mentorship program as well.
Tyler Domm a Middle School team member went on to say, "I look up to them all the time, and I know they can help me if I need it. Their robot also looks so cool and I can't wait to build a robot out of actual parts, not just Legos."
With hopes from this years hard work paying off, the Wayland-Cohocton Robotics Club will take their robots and compete on Nov. 22, at the Finger Lakes Qualifying Tournament at Pal-Mac High School.
Middle School team member Tyler Jordan added "I feel kinda scared, I always think there might be something wrong with it and we wont have time to fix it. So that is my scary thought."
Enthusiastically Mendurm said, "I am ready, but still so very nervous, we got so much to get done."
Domm closed with "Its pretty exciting, we keep getting problems solved so I know we will get some points at the competition."