Leadership magazine March/April 2017 V46 No. 4 - Page 34

It was priceless to observe younger students looking with awe to older students knowing one day they , too , would reach that higher level of inquiry .
34 Leadership
are essential components to further propel teams into champions , whether they win or lose . “ They design , build , and program their own robots ,” stated a secondary teacher . “ They are sometimes forced to go back to the drawing board when reality doesn ’ t meet the expectations of imagination .”
Students quickly discovered the need for collaboration to attain a mutual goal . “ In robotics , you have to learn to work as a team and we ’ re learning how to do that better ,” stated one girl . A fifth grader added , “ It gave me a chance to be creative but the competitions are nerve-wracking .”
HUSD started small but immediately students , staff , and community members found the value of its real world application . Education Services ’ support for designing STEM and technology A-G courses of study highly increased its development and sustainability . Robotics K-12 is a district-wide program which currently consists of 14 teams at the secondary level and 36 teams at the elementary level who successfully compete in robotics state and worldwide ; having placed first in state in both middle and high school as well as top rankings internationally .
HUSD robotic students were honored at a board meeting for their prestigious competition standings . As the recognition of student achievements began , it was undoubtedly clear the depth and complexity increased at every level as modeled in the student created tasks each robot performed . It was priceless to observe younger students looking with awe to older students knowing one day they , too , would reach that higher level of inquiry .
The leadership of HUSD reinforced the need for students to engage in authentic learning experiences and application of 21st Century skills by authorizing funding to support Robotics K-12 and STEM education . Initially , minimal funding was available as STEM education and robotics were in its infancy stages of introduction nationally . However , staff reached out to the community and successfully pursued grant funding , business partnerships , and administrative support .
As the program grew , the superintendent and board were central in ensuring schools had robots , parts , materials , resources , training , and competition fees needed for robotics through state lottery funding . In subsequent years it was written into the Local Control and Accountability Plan ( LCAP ) which allocated robotics funds for secondary sites .
What started as two secondary schools introducing students to the STEM field through robotics , resulted in a full-scale K-12 program at HUSD . Sultana High School ( SHS ) blazed the trail with Ranchero Middle School ( RMS ) following their tracks in pioneering an after-school robotics program . Teachers and students collectively examined the new territory of a building and controlling an electromechanical device which could respond to and manipulate its environment through computer and electronic programming .
In 2010 , SHS incorporated VEX Robotics and RMS trained in Project Lead the Way as the infrastructure for curriculum and application of STEM skills . Teachers attended professional development , including training by industry leaders and engineering professors at various universities . Students entered VEX Robotics Competitions with an extraordinary mark of success , including first place in state and high rankings in world championships .
Robotics K-12 also led to an induction of an industrial technology pathway , Cisco Networking Academy , at one high school where students can earn industry certificates