La robotique contre le décrochage scolaire
September 24, 2012
For more than 5 years now, the Rikitik Science Club of the Paul Hubert School has been giving Secondary 2 to Secondary 5 students an opportunity to participate in stimulating scientific and technological learning opportunities. Every year, approximately forty youngsters have a chance to show their talent and determination in various competitions such as Expo Science, Imaginative Creation as well as in the field of robotics.
Last year, we submitted a project to the Aviva contest to participate in the largest robotics competition in North America: the FIRST Robotic Competition (FRC). In spite of the fact we qualified for the semi-final, we were excluded from the final by the skin of our teeth! We nevertheless persevered and our project was completed! Out of the 37 teams in the final, including some which had more than 15 years of experience, we finished second in the qualifications and proceeded to the final round in addition to winning two distinctions. We can assure you that our youngsters were more than proud!
There is no doubt as far as we’re concerned, that robotics has an important role to play to counter dropping out of school, especially regarding boys, who are a clientele at risk. It allows students to do even better academically and intellectually in addition to encouraging get togethers at which the exchange of ideas and the development of new friendships will be facilitated. The most important aspect is however the development of the feeling of belonging to the educational milieu: the guarantee of perseverance and academic success! Our main objective this year is to make our robotics program available to a broader clientele in our school. Our first objective is to introduce WeDo technology from Lego for students who are part of the Preparation for Active Life Program (PALP) who are intellectually challenged, whether moderately or who have a profound intellectual disability. This system, which usually caters to preschool children, uses a programming method based on a system of pictograms, which is ideal to stimulate our youngsters. Our second objective is to acquire 16 Lego Mindstorms NXT kits to complete our pre-existing kits. They will be used during robotics workshops for students enrolled in the Work Training Program (WTP). Consisting mostly of boys, this clientele is known to have a high rate of school drop outs before obtaining a diploma. Our goal is to increase student retention by developing stimulating activities mentored by the seasoned students of the Rikitik Science Club. Our final goal is to introduce the new TETRIX technology, which is a logical follow up to the increase in the level of complexity in robotics and in programming. The use of new sensors may increase the contribution robotics may make to the science and technology courses given to all of our students. Robotics will therefore be a project calling on engagement and in which the University of Quebec at Rimouski and the Rimouski College already participate through the Rikitik Science Club. This equipment will be used for several years by a large proportion of the youngsters in our region, thereby enhancing their level of competency in science and technology, which is an important lever for our economy!