This content was originally published by the Longmont Observer and is licensed under a Creative Commons license.
In the St. Vrain Valley School District (SVVSD), robotics are an integral part of raising communicative students, students with skill sets and students with a future in STEM careers.
Axel Reitzig, Robotics and Computer Science Coordinator for St. Vrain Valley Schools said, "SVVSD has had a lot of national and international success over the past few years. One team from Central Elementary was 3rd in the world at the 2016-17 World Championships; last year, in 2017-18, students from Red Hawk Elementary and Erie Middle School finished 2nd in the team work competition and 3rd in the skills challenge."
With so many robotics companies, such as Honeybee Robotics, Mondo Robot and Sphero, in the area, St. Vrain students have an opportunity to stay local and use their robotics skills.
SVVSD students participate in the VEX Robotics program from second to twelfth grades. According to Reitzig, students “have transformative experiences through competitions and through traveling to events like the World Championships.” At the elementary level students participate in after-school robotics clubs, often inspired by older siblings.
There are other impacts of this program for students. Reitzig discussed how the program develops confidence in addition to special skills in coding, engineering and mathematics. The program also teaches students softer skills such as communication, collaboration, project management, persistence and the ability to overcome setbacks. “All of these factors combine to give them a very solid foundation for moving on to more advanced challenges and graduating with a competitive advantage.”
Older students are given the opportunity to mentor clubs and run tournaments, where they learn leadership and organizational skills. “There are several students who, because of their participation in this program, received scholarships and entry into top college programs," Reitzig says.
St. Vrain Valley Schools has had a lot of national and international success over the past few years. The students are dedicated and work hard for their success in this program. Alex Downing, STEM Coordinator at Indian Peaks Elementary, stated that one student commented that they "couldn't believe how fun working hard is."
The program takes place from November through early March. There are summer programs available at schools like