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Lodge Grass robotics club grows into its fifth year

Thursday, February 28, 2019
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Photo by Gary Rood

Lodge Grass eighth grader Angie Toineeta (center) helps younger students Tuesday afternoon at the robotics club.

Another local school has received not only funding, but also experienced growth for its robotics club. The Lodge Grass Indians have one that includes student members from high school and now all the way down to kindergarten.

The club itself is led by science teacher Chad Martin and is in its fifth year of operation.

The class teaches students to build and program the robots. This includes programming them to not only move autonomously, but alsooperate using block programming, written language or Java Script programming.

The class also has an assortment of Lego robotic kits that allow students to construct robots, program them, and command their movements and tasks.

Martin pointed out that the robotics program shows the students the importance of education because so many educational principles apply.

Building a robot helps teach principles of math, science, construction and computer programming.

Students returned from the club’s most recent competition – the FIRST Tech Challenge in Bozeman – where members faced off against about 40 other teams from four different states. One team present, from Park City, Utah, was the 2018 world champion in robotics events.

The FIRST Tech Challenge teams consist of up to 15 members and are challenged to design, build, program and operate robots to compete in head-to-head challenges.

Tech Challenge competitions involve earning points by having robots perform specific actions, or “missions,” in the most efficient way possible.

“At the highest level, it’s very competitive,” Martin said. “We’re not exactly the highest level, but it’s still pretty cool.”

For the participating teams, it is not just about beating their competitors. Both the Wyola and Helena participants assisted those of Lodge Grass. While it wasn’t something they had to do, both teams were recognized for it.

In part thanks to their efforts aiding Lodge Grass, Helena team members are off to nationals.

“Happiness is more important the winning,” Martin said. “It about providing opportunities to help students function at a high level. The students have definitely inspired me.”

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