Six weeks, one team, and one collaborative goal: Constructing the future.
That future? One fully functional robot, designed, built and programmed by students.
Thanks to a partnership with tech consulting company BizStream, a robotics team made up of students from Allendale, Coopersville, and Jenison schools gain valuable, practical experience in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields.
And they get to build a cool robot from scratch.
“We focus on engineering, working on a team and so many other skills needed for robotics,” Allendale High School tenth-grader Ethan Potinsky says. “We are learning a lot of things that not every student has the opportunity to do.”
Members of the robotics team have the task of creating a robot and entering competitions. This requires serious teamwork as they collaborate to design, program and build a robot in less than six weeks. Students also have the responsibility of marketing their project in an effort to raise funds.
BizStream founder Mark Schmidt, an Allendale High School alumnus, sponsors the project. Mark’s company provides a substantial amount of funding, equipment and even teaches students how to write code for free.
“Knowing any type of coding would put them on a great path for all types of future coding careers. The younger that students start thinking this way, the better,” Mark says. “They are our future and I think it’s important to make a positive impact on their lives.”
Mark and the team members at BizStream believe students do much better in class when they feel they have hands-on involvement in their learning and can see tangible results like a fully functional robot.
While the work can be challenging, Allendale Robotics president Adam Timmer says the students enjoy spending extra time working after school.
“The robotics team is innovative because it’s fun but also a great educational experience,” Adam says. “It gets students really excited about learning outside of the classroom.”
Mark and the BizStream team’s philosophy of working with the youth have influenced the robotics team. Ethan says introducing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills to younger students is important to team members.
“We help promote STEM in our community by doing demonstrations at local schools and community libraries,” Ethan says. “We also host community field days promoting the subjects because introducing science and math early on is the best way to have committed members participating in robotics and other STEM activities long after we graduate.”
Ethan knows this firsthand - joining the team helped him realize that he wants to pursue a career in robotics after high school. Gaining the valuable skills and experience thanks to the help of companies like BizStream helped him find his future.
“With these skills going into the professional world, we know will be a lot more prepared and ahead of the curve,” Ethan says.
“The network OASSN provides has been wonderful in connecting schools, law enforcement, mental health services and community organizations for the safety and security of our students and our community as a whole.” —Leslie Philipps, Assistant Superintendent for Jenison Public Schools
“Our Community School Coordinator makes sure to meet the needs of all families in our school. From supplying families in my class with food and clothing, Christmas gifts, services such has outside counseling, financial planning and even prescription glasses. The students know she is a safe person who is always ready to give the extra care they may need.” —Stacy Manning, Coopersville teacher