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Four wheelin' with the robots

Remote-controlled robots zipped back and forth across the entryway of Stillwater Area High School July 18 under the direction of junior high and high school students.

The young engineers maneuvered the robots around the room, commanding them to pick up ping pong balls, shovel up blocks of woods and grab hold of metal tubes. After a week of planning and building, this was the students' opportunity to showcase the mechanical robots they created as part of Stillwater Area Public School's Community Education Robotics Academy.

The academy is a weeklong class that combines math and physics skills in a fun and relevant way. Students in grades eight to12 work as teams to configure systems and design and engage their robot in task oriented activities.

They learn the design process, practice teamwork, and explore engineering and technical careers. In addition to building robots, students also have the opportunity to tour manufacturing plants and meet with professionals in industry.

The finale at the academy was the "Coopetition," in which students showcase the robots they created and demonstrate the tasks they have been designed to execute.

According to information provided by the district "the academy is just one part of a bigger district initiative to integrate science, math, engineering, and technology experiences into everyday classroom activities. Throughout the school year, students in classrooms across the district are using STEM skills to create simple machines, design computer-animated art, solve complex math problems, and much more."