Interview with Ms. Ball about VEX Robotics Competition
By Brian Clark Jr.,
Below is an interview with Ms. Ball about the VEX Robotics Competition.
Patterson Press: Why do you do this competition for the students?
Ms. Ball: The reason I do this competition for the students is to teach them problem solving, communication and programming skills. In addition to learning about engineering, students are able to interact with each other in a positive manner while applying Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) concepts.
Patterson Press: Who can participate?
Ms. Ball: Anyone can participate. We welcome students, parents, and staff.
Patterson Press: What made you want to start a Robotics Club in Patterson High School?
Ms. Ball: The reason I wanted to start a Robotics Club at Patterson High School is because at my old school, we had a VEX team and a FIRST Robotics team. So, when I came to Patterson, we were able to implement a VEX team with the resources we had. The students were able to engage the robotics concepts right away so the program grew.
Patterson Press: What do the students do with the skills they learn from the Robotics Club?
Ms. Ball: They use the skills to improve robot designs and to increase their gaming skills and/or to learn about engineering.
Patterson Press: Do any of the students go on to college to study robotics or engineering?
Ms. Ball: Yes. Several of the students in the Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Engineering Program use robotics to get scholarships to pay for college. Last year, two PLTW students in the robotics club got over $170,000 in scholarship money. They both are studying engineering and computer science in college.
Patterson Press: How many students are on the robotics team?
Ms. Ball: Right now there are 15 students who come on a regular basis. A lot more are interested, but we don’t have the resources to support more students. Though students work in teams of two and three, at some point they should be able to build their own robots, not to just learn about the concepts. We are writing grants to fund our club, but until we get more resources we have to turn some students away.
Patterson Press: How many faculty members help with robotics?
Ms. Ball: Everybody at Patterson supports our robotics team, but currently only two teachers (Ms. Ball and Mr. Funk) runs the program. We would like to have more teachers attend the club meetings to help the students.