For the past three years, Cedar Ridge Middle School has had some semblance of a robotics club, and two robotics classes, but not enough funding to compete in VEX robotics contests.
This year, middle school robotics teacher Dennis Lane, with the help of the Sandy High robotics team, hosted a week-long camp for budding engineers to gain experience with robotics as a fundraiser, and will have the money to take students to competitions.
Around 19 kids attended the camp. Some from Boring Middle bemoaned the fact that their school still does not have a robotics team.
High schoolers helped with building and coding bots to complete typical tasks like picking up objects for competition.
Orion Skinner, a junior who's competed in state and worlds robotics competitions, told The Post he's glad to see the middle school branching into competitive robotics. Though he had home-based experience in building as a younger student, he noted "it would've been nice having actual robotics experience going into high school."
"I've always been really creative and liked to build things," Skinner said. "(Robotics appealed to me because) it pushed all of the coding, designing and engineering into one."
At this point, Skinner has taken almost every engineering and robotics class offered at Sandy High, and plans to pursue a degree in engineering after graduation next year.
"The entire point of VEX robotics is pushing STEM," he added, explaining why he thinks offering robotics and engineering education in grade school is important. "If the world isn't creating more engineers, pretty soon we won't have enough."
For seventh-grader Jake Randall, the opportunity to compete is a fun addition to look forward during the school year. "I think robotics is a really fun way to challenge your brain," Randall said. "I'm looking forward to competing this year."
Lane said with the funds raised and students already signed up for the club, the school will be able to take eight travel teams of 24 students total. Other students who are interested in joining will be accepted on a case-by-case basis.
"I think it's really important we're teaching our students to be tech creators, not just users," Lane said. "We're teaching them to apply that knowledge now. I'm really looking forward to these kids having the opportunity and meet other kids like them."
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