Our opinion: Robotics is competition along with education

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, February 10, 2021

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In Saturday’s Herald, we ran a story on the robotics program in Southland.

The Southland Schools District has shown a remarkable commitment to the robotics teams at the school by including a dedicated workspace in the new addition to the school. It demonstrates that the district has faith in the education standard of robotics and the broader STEM education.

On the surface, robotics looks to offer a fun component to schools as students take control of their robots in fun and competitive tournaments against students from other schools. It’s a chance to make friends and a chance to be challenged.

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But robotics is something more. It’s an educational medium to science and the good news is, this trend is growing within the area and state.

Just a few short years ago, Southland had just five to seven students involved and now that number has swelled to around 50. Paula Mortenson, Southland science teacher and advisor to the high school robotics teams, expects that number may rise even more now that robotics lab is up and running and much more visible.

The success that Southland is seeing mirrors the growth Austin Public Schools has seen over the years as more and more students are becoming involved in robotics.

Robotics opens up an exciting world of discovery and possibility as students are introduced to science and mechanical engineering. Indeed robotics is a gateway to the future and preps it’s participants for careers in these same areas once they graduate.

“Robotics is moving ahead and we’re making sure we are sending out a prepared student,” Mortenson said.

Schools are able to prepare students like never before for careers in science and engineering and robotics plays a large part in this.

As robotics teams in school districts become more involved in the activity, they naturally become involved in the educational opportunity afforded to the students, bridging where they are now and where they could be in the future.

More opportunity means better education and a more opportunistic future.

Any school district should want to be a part of that.