“We’ve been doing this for five years now. We just started three teams in Cartersville, but we also have four teams in Rome,” Greg Shropshire of 100 Black Men of Rome-Northwest Georgia said, adding the program corresponds with the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics initiative within public schools.
He said the two parts of the program include a table-top game and research on how to solve a real-world problem. This year’s problem is a natural disaster.
“They have to come up with a real-world solution to a real-world problem, which is a natural disaster, and they’re encouraged to think outside of the box and the solution they come up with doesn’t necessarily have to exist today, but it could be something possible through technology and innovation,” Shropshire said. “The whole point of the game really is to teach those 21st-century skills.”
While the local branch of the program features the assistance of volunteers, Shropshire described it as being entirely student driven.
“[Students] have to perform different missions for different points. They have to build it, they have to program it, they have to come up with the strategy, because when they go to a competition, they have to speak to the judges,” he said. “It’s a competition with over 60 countries, with 50,000 students participating and they all use the exact same game and pieces.”
Because the program takes place outside of school and off campus, with the teams practicing, for example, at the Olin Tatum Agricultural Building in Cartersville, Shropshire said both students and parents have to take a vested interest in order for the teams to be successful.
“It requires a certain level of dedication from the kids and the parents,” Shropshire said. “Quite a few of our kids are involved in track and other stuff, so they have to be committed to the process.”
Cartersville Middle School students Ethan Boone, a seventh grader, and Deuce Jones, an eighth grader, are two students who have dedicated their time to learning more about robotics, but they say it isn’t all hard work.
“I like anything that has to do with technology,” Jones said. “[The program requires] a lot of trial and error.”
Boone said he felt working with the program was an opportunity to further enjoy one of his longtime interests.
“I have been a huge fan of LEGOs since I was a child and when they came out with the Mindstorm set ... which is the LEGO robotics set, I built with it and played around with all the robotics I could do and when I read about [the program] in some of my LEGO magazines, I knew I had to join it,” Boone said.
For more information, contact Shropshire, 678-956-9660, or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.