Kids Learning in School by Building Robots

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An new program is coming to Harrisonburg schools this fall, and if you're child is good at math and science, this may be the opportunity of a lifetime.

This is no ordinary class at Harrisonburg High School. These students on the robotic team are using spare parts to build a special robot. Their teacher, Geoffrey Estes expects to see more classes like this soon.

"We are using things like robotics as a springboard for the program, meaning these students can actually take the things they are learning in class and actually apply it to a real world situation," said Estes, the mentor of HHS Robotics Team.

The program he's talking about is called the Stem Academy. It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. It will start at Harrisonburg High School and Skyline Middle School next year.

"I really believe that those students are going to experience things that will change their motivation, change their career paths," said Patrick Lintner, Executive Director of Instruction at Harrisonburg Schools.

One of the advantages of this new program is to take kids' knowledge of math and science and apply it to real life situations: such as taking a basketball and figuring out how a robot could throw it.

And that's exactly what a robot that students are working on will do when it's completed. Stem will provide interested students opportunities like that to get their ball rolling for the future.

"It will be oriented toward careers that maybe exist now, and maybe don't exist now. And so I think where we may have lost some of our global edge, is because we haven't been as forward thinking as some of the other countries."

Teachers are excited for a new way not only to teach their students, but to show them subjects in a new way.

"Many times students will say, well when am I gonna use this? Well we can show them how they're gonna use it, and we can show them right now," said Estes.

Stem will start in the next school year, and it's available for only a select number of students.

There will be an information session on Feb. 29th at 7 p.m. at Harrisonburg High School. And another on March 1 at Skyline Middle School.