"You will leave today saying, 'Wow,'" said West Point's Dr. Kendall Williams as he introduced the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) robotics workshop held at the College For Every Student (CFES) headquarters.
Forty middle school students from six schools in upstate New York's Adirondack region participated in the all day event.
"This workshop is part of CFES' extensive collaboration with West Point at sites across the country," said CFES CEO Rick Dalton. "Middle school students are involved in these activities as part of our comprehensive plan to help them become college and career ready. High paying jobs in the future will be in STEM areas and thus we want our students to become excited about STEM activities."
Accompanying Dr. Williams were West Point cadets Nicholas Greene, Geneva Vezeau, and Vaniah Mack who helped students program and build their robots. "It's rewarding to see the smiles on their faces and how things seem to click in their minds," said Vezeau.
A murmur filled the room as students exchanged ideas, assisted one another in assembling the robots, measuring the course, and programming computers, all of which embody both CFES and STEM philosophies.
Greene noted, "It's a great opportunity for them as they learn the elementary steps. It forces kids to have to think out a process and how it might apply in the real world."
The workshop culminated with teams putting their robots into action as their peers voted on presumed accuracy. "It excited me to do this sort of thing," said seventh grader Milly Perryman. "I am generally the type of person that just sits in the back of the classroom."
"It was incredible watching our robots slowly complete the challenge; like watching a child growing up," added seventh grader Harvey Runyon.
Crown Point Central School's CFES advisor Crystal Farrell commented on the workshop's value. "This was one of my top teacher moments. I was so proud watching the students work with peers they had not met previously, following instructions, taking turns, sharing ideas and achieving a common goal."
Keene Central student Edward O'Neil spoke for all his classmates when he said, "The amount of knowledge I gained was beyond amazing. This workshop helps my generation to understand our world and be successful in our society full of technology."