For immediate release: January 15, 2013

East Picacho Elementary School Robotics Club members working with robots. Photos by East Picacho Elementary School parent Genevieve Olguin.

East Picacho Elementary School Robotics Club members working with robots. Photos by East Picacho Elementary School parent Genevieve Olguin.

By East Picacho Elementary School Computer Lab Instructor Cathie Leslie

LAS CRUCES – Every Tuesday from September to December, approximately 20 fourth- and fifth-graders at East Picacho Elementary School gathered after school to attend WARP, the Weekly Afterschool Robotics Program.

The program was the brainchild of Dakota Burrows, a senior at Mayfield High School and robot enthusiast. Students were organized into teams of three and given the task to build a robot that could navigate a specified course and perform required actions. Using Lego Mindstorm kits, teams created robots using programmable “brain units” and a variety of sensors (light, sound, touch, etc.). The object of the challenge was to create a robot-like “football player” that could carry a ball through an obstacle course without touching the obstacles. When the “player” reached the opposite end zone, it had to release the ball.

All teams were given the base “brain unit” and then designed individual methods to move the robots down a course as well as carry and release the ball. Teams also
EPES Robotics2learned how to program their individual robots using Mindstorm software. The program was conducted as a challenge rather than a competition. Most teams had to “tweak” their robots numerous times before the challenge was successful.

The fall 2012 robotics program was the third of its kind to be held at East Picacho Elementary. The first program took place in fall 2011 and the second the summer “Enrich the Kids” program. All programs were taught by Dakota Burrows. Luis Barraras, also a Mayfield senior, assisted with the summer and fall 2012 programs. Younger students are keeping their fingers crossed that the
EPES Robotics3program will continue so they too will have a chance to become members of the team.

Students who participated in the program were able to develop an understanding of how difficult yet rewarding working in the field of robotics could be.  Hopefully, many of these same students will consider futures in the robotics and computer industries.

For more information, call East Picacho Elementary School at 575.527.9516.

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