Teens Turn Hands-On Learning Experience into Teaching Moments at Robotics Competition


5.12.10 | Last time on StudentSpeak, we met a group of teenagers—the Chicago Knights—who get together regularly to learn about the art and science of robotics. In this webisode, we follow the Knights as they compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Midwest Regional, held annually in Chicago.

The teens face many challenges at the three-day event, first preparing and then executing their team of robots to face off in a soccer-like match against other robots. There are joystick connection issues, immobile robots, faulty motors and inexperienced drivers controlling the robots’ moves.

“It’s all about learning how to solve problems on your feet,” said Chicago Knights founder Jackie Moore. “Everybody wants a robot that works perfectly the first time, but the kids get really excited when they fix the problem under pressure.”

Can the Knights step it up when things don’t go quite as planned?

Despite their trials, the students’ competence at this high level of engineering and computer programming is impressive.  The Knights program extends learning beyond the classroom, and the competition gives the students an opportunity to demo the skills they have learned in their afterschool program.

Equally impressive is their spirit of cooperation and good sportsmanship. The teens are eager to share their discoveries with students they meet — much as they do with each other during hours of participatory, hands-on learning afterschool.

“We go out and we try to help other people,” said Juan, a high school junior, “especially rookie teams who don’t have as a good of a footing as we do.”

StudentSpeak, a video series produced by Spotlight, goes behind the scenes to show how teens use digital media in their daily lives. View previous webisodes.


robotics, video


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