A little worldly competition has made its way to the east side of town, but it’s not at the rodeo grounds.
As a matter of fact, it could not be more opposite than the grounds which have made the Cowboy Capital so well known.
The competition comes by way of the Sierra View Elementary School Robotics Club, which is participating in the Wonder League Robotics Competition. Wonder League Robotics Competition allows the students to compete against over 35,000 kids from 69 different countries. A feat which not only has the students excited, but motivated to spend two days a week meeting with their club each week after school.
The idea for the club first came to Sierra View computer teacher Pat Mistry via Bay Area friends who host similar clubs at their campuses, as well as participate in the worldwide event. First launched at the elementary school campus in the 2018-19 school year, Mistry had a total of five students between ages nine and 11 show an interest.
Proving to be small but mighty, the five person team placed in the top 300 of the thousands competing.
“Unfortunately, they didn’t win the final round, but they had a great opportunity to learn technology, program robots and work on the oceanographic issues,” Mistry said of the inaugural team.
This year looks to be more promising for the team of fourth through sixth grade students. The 2019-2020 team now totals 23 students comprising five competing teams with Mistry as the coach. Each week the students are challenged to take on one of five story-based missions with their respective teams.
“There are five story-based missions students must complete to be eligible to compete in the final round,” the coach shared.
Tasks in the missions involve rescuing a robot from the junk pile and creating a trap for an animal, among other things.
“Through these missions, students will develop a problem-solving, growth mindset, creativity skills and learn to code,” she said.
Once missions are completed and videotaped, Mistry then uploads the team results and e-mails its submission. The mission based competition began for the club in early October, final submissions must be in by mid-January to be considered for the invitation round and then the finals.
As students buzz around Misty’s classroom after school, they discuss their programing options, record results and utilize iPads to video their respective robots completing the task.
“I like science and I teach computers at Sierra View, this seemed very beneficial to the kids that are interested in coding, programing basically,” she said of bringing the club to the school.
“Usually girls are shy to do the science part of it,” Mistry noted, sharing her excitement of the 10 of 23 students in the club being girls. “That makes me very proud and happy, that I’m influencing the kids to have an interest in science, girls and boys.”
Fifth graders Weston McGhee and Gage Holzum shared the coach’s enthusiasm noting a number of things they have learned including problem solving and how to work through challenges as a team.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for kids who don’t get to do this a lot,” Gage said of the opportunities to code, as well as video tape and utilize the technology, “so I think it’s a wonderful experience.”
“The missions are quite different from last year,” Weston said, as a returning club member. “Ms. Mistry is a big help in all of this.”
As each of the students discussed the enriching experience of being in the club, the idea of advancement becomes apparent in their conversation. Of the many things they learned from the pioneer team the most important improvement they plan on using this year is the thoroughness of the log book.
One of the youngest on the team, fourth grader Sydney Pippin shared she’s enjoying the afterschool time with her like-minded techie friends.
“Being given the opportunity to be in the group is exciting,” Sydney said. “I’m one of the kids that likes technology, so I thought it might be fun to work with programming robots.”
Yet it’s an opportunity which would not be possible without the support of the school site administration. According to Mistry while some items were donated, the funding for the club has come directly from Sierra View Principal David Kindred. Support which is not only invaluable to the teacher, but enriching for the students as well.
“They have learned how to video tape, how to edit videos, how to write log books about scientific methods, all the little details that they have to do,” Misty said of the overall experience. “They follow directions very well.”
For more information on the Wonder League Robotics Competition visit www.makewonder.com.