Students Become Engineers with Robots

Friday, February 27th 2009, 7:32 pm
By: News 9

By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Capitol Hill High School students are making history as the first students in the Oklahoma City Public School District to learn about engineering.

A robotics course is now offered at the school and the teens are already in competition with the robot they designed this weekend at the Cox Center. Fifty teams from high schools all over Oklahoma and neighboring states are battling for the top spot in the ring.

As the clock starts, teams have 2 minutes to score points. The object of the game is for the robot to shoot as many spheres as possible into the opponent's basket. During the last few seconds, humans can shoot too. But the object of the program overall is to inspire our youth to dream of becoming the next science and technology heroes.

"We think this is the fastest growing varsity sport out there. We have 190,000 students involved out there," First Robotics President Paul Gudonis said

Teams have only six weeks to design their robots with a standard kit of parts.

"I know any part, anything. Anything's wrong with it, I can get it," Capitol Hill freshman Rodney Emerson said.

For students at Capitol Hill High, it's their second year of competition.

"These students, a lot of them don't have access to tools, don't have access to computers, and so this is quite an eye opener for them to be able to work with woodshop tools and computers and work with technicians and learn from them," Capitol Hill Coach James Stephan said.

Engineers in the community mentor the high school students throughout the process, teaching kids not only about robotics, but also about careers in the field.

"'Did you ever know you were interested in something like this?' Nope. ‘Are you interested?' Yep, a lot. ‘Why?' ‘Cause it's fun, interesting, you meet new people," Capitol Hill sophomore Mathew Johnson said.

Capitol Hill High School is the first in the Oklahoma City Public school district to offer a robotics class, paving the way for other schools in the district.

The teacher and coach for Capitol Hill has been asked to speak at the national competition about his school. Capitol Hill's program is considered to be a model for the nation on what's working for urban youth.

Last year the Capitol Hill team came in seventh place. This weekend, they're hoping to make it to the top six, so they can travel to the national competition in Atlanta in April.

See the robots in action at the Cox Convention Center.