Cutting-edge technology is alive and well at Mario C. and JoAnne Monaco Middle School, which has joined with other Clark County School District (CCSD) schools in embracing the teaching of robotics to its students.
Robotics started as an after-school club last year, but became a class this year. Teachers Jennifer Clapp and Rocar Gallo say their 22 robotics students are excited to learn how to build and program robots, and have obtained assistance from other CCSD schools including Sunrise Mountain and Cheyenne High Schools.
Clapp’s son, Travis, a substitute teacher for CCSD and a mechanical engineering student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, also has helped out.
Using parts and technology from the LEGO Corporation, the EV3 MINDSTORMS robots are able to move in various directions and angles, pick up items and complete numerous other tasks.
Additionally, the class is not just about building robots. As explained by Clapp, “It’s also about teamwork, cooperation, problem solving and professionalism.” The class is available to all students in grades six through eight at the school.
The tremendous interest in robots nationwide has not been lost on Monaco’s robotics students. Rocar and Clapp often talk about the excellent job opportunities that await students who pursue robotics as a career.
So far this school year, the students have been preparing for the First LEGO League Robotics Competition to be held in December. The theme of the competition will be Hydro Dynamics, which means robots will have to carry out tasks related to the conservation of water. According to Clapp, “Each team will use their robots to transport, use, or dispose of water.”
Rocar enjoys seeing her students get excited about working together to solve problems. “They are learning about coding, engineering and much more, but they are also having fun.”
As explained by Principal Lisa Medina, “The robotics class promotes our continuing effort to provide rigorous STEAM-related learning opportunities for our students to promote active student engagement, team building, and collaboration for 21st century skills.”
Medina added, “Many of our students will be zoned for Sunrise Mountain High School where they have a robotics program. Since our students have experience with the robotics curriculum, they will easily transition to the next level of robotics concepts.”