Northwest School District expands robotics programs

BLACKMAN TOWNSHIP, MI. (WILX) - In this edition of Schools Rule, WILX News 10 is highlighting one program that is expanding for all age ranges.

Northwest's Robotics Program spans the middle and high schools and is now reaching their elementary students. The curriculum now extends to the classrooms.

"At every level, K through 12, we give the kids opportunities for STEM involvement," said Tim Warneck, the Robotics District Coordinator.

That is why Northwest says they work so hard to get every child involved in Match and Science programs, anyway they can.

"It gives an opportunity to give them a direction," said Warneck. "I think the confidence that they can go, 'Oh, that stuff's out there. No, I can do that stuff,'" said Warneck. "It's awesome."

That means getting students into the classrooms and involved in Robotics Competitions where they build and design their own robot.

"It's pretty amazing, you get to interact with people not only in your grade but younger grades and older grades," said Aiden Baker, who is on the Middle School Team.

CG: John Horvath/Middle & High School Teams
"I'd say anything you can join do it, and there are new things you can try," said John Horvath, who is on the Middle and High School Teams. "It's just a lot of math, you have to figure out where everything is and make sure it doesn't run into anything."

The teams are also designing an autonomous Jeep. It will drive itself and the students are programming it to do so.

CG: Michelle VandyBogurt/High School Science Teacher
"The engineering process, people don't appreciate how much we think in terms of the scientific method," said Michelle VandyBogurt, the High School Science Teacher. "In a real world setting it makes it fun. The kids forget that they're actually doing science and that they're applying it in a real world way, which is all the engineering process is about."

The teams are all about getting kids of every age involved and that includes elementary school students.

"It's been really exciting to have them ask us questions," said VandyBogurt."They say, 'You know what, I just coded this game, can I show you, too?' The younger children are bringing this to our older kids and are really excited."

All of Northwest's Teams are getting ready for competition season and to debut this year's self-driving Jeep.

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