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Stacy’s Robotics Club Holds Annual Expo

Students at Stacy Middle School had the chance to show off their engineering and computer science skills during the annual Robotics Club Expo held on January 28.

Dozens of parents, grandparents and siblings of students in the Robotics Club came to Stacy for the afternoon to see the hard work that has gone into designing, building, and programming robots that are able to perform a series of challenges.

Under the direction of Robotics Club advisor and 7th grade Social Studies teacher Paul Peloquin, the students have been meeting weekly since the beginning of the school year, learning about robotics and working together in teams to build their own robot, mainly by using the "trial-and-error" approach.

"The kids are learning about the engineering process and how to work together to solve a problem," said Peloquin about the goals of the Robotics Club. "They are also learning that things don't always come easy and you have to work for them."

Peloquin, who has been the advisor of Stacy's Robotics Club for the past seven years, said that he designs the challenges each year for students to work towards while building and programming their robot.

This year, students were given four challenges – "Save the Pedestrian" – have the robot get as close to a Lego figure as possible without touching it; "Move It Along" – have the robot push a block and make a turn; "Lift Me Up" – have the robot drive towards a Lego totem pole, lift it up, and move it to a different location; and "Domino Run" – have the robot place dominos in a row.

The challenges may seem easy on paper, but there were many layers to the work needed to complete the tasks, according to Peloquin. "Each team has had their own challenges and difficulties in solving them as they have gone along," he said.

The teams were given five minutes each to try and complete as many challenges they could, demonstrating for the audience their teamwork, engineering, and programming skills.

Peloquin said that the Expo is a great way for the students to get some experience in competition, and hopes that the next step for the Club will be to enter into national Lego competitions.

Yet for now, it seems to be just the process that keeps students engaged week after week.

"My favorite part is the 'trial and error' that we go through until it works," said 7th grader Kim Stochaj. "And when it works it's pretty great!"


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