The Volunteer Cheer: September 2019

The Volunteer Cheer: September 2019
Posted on 10/04/2019
Volunteer CheerBuilding Robots – and Future Leaders
Robotics Mentors

The spirit of exploration is strong in Clear Creek ISD, and this spirit is born from a place unique to this region. The NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) holds a treasure trove of innovation and expertise from which the teachers and students of CCISD benefit in many ways.

One way students benefit is through the CCISD Robotics Programs. Robotics students participate in coursework and practicum projects rooted in the principles of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and more specifically robotics technology. That’s only part of the story. The highpoint of their labor comes when students demonstrate their proficiency in robotics throughout the competition season. There are several different programs, including BEST, FIRST, and VEX, that overlap in these competitions year round.

However, students are not alone when they take on this sizable challenge.

NASA and aerospace contractor employees, along with other volunteers, spend countless hours working alongside the student teams guiding them through programming and construction of the robots, as well as building the elaborate obstacle courses the robots must traverse during the competition. The program began 24 years ago as a joint project between NASA JSC and CCISD to build one competition robot. This program has since grown to over 130 robotics teams across all campuses.

“It’s great fun,” said Ross Pettinger. Pettinger is working with students to build a robot in six weeks for a competition on October 19, 2019. “My wife and I have done this for many years and we just really enjoy working with these kids.” Like many of the mentors, Pettinger comes several days a week and for several hours each day.

“My favorite part of this is when a student may be struggling with a concept – and all of the sudden their face lights up when they figure out the solution,” said Pettinger.

It takes mentors working hand-in-hand with students to piece together the building blocks of the robots. High school robotics students also dedicate some of their free time to mentor the younger teams in intermediate and elementary to get them ready for competitions. CCISD salutes all of these mentors because they are also building future engineers and leaders.

This Volunteer Cheer is for Ross Pettinger, Lucien Junkin, Jim Powell and the many other mentors who selflessly give their time and unique expertise.

Stay tuned for a feature story spotlighting the partnership between these mentors and students in an upcoming ABC13+ story scheduled to air the week of October 14, 2019.

For more on the robotics program, click here.

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