Organization: Lakeside School District (Lakeside Elementary) Chicot County
How did you become interested in robotics?
Becoming a robotics coach for an elementary school was part of the job description for a new position I took. I chose to delve deep and found an insurmountable love of robotics ever since 2017. The team was already formed, but my mentor Jennifer Armstrong (coach for the middle school team) made the transition into becoming a robotics coach much easier. Her passion for the sport rubbed off on me, and it has only grown more after experiencing robotics and judging at VEX Worlds.
What has been the most challenging part? The most rewarding?
The most challenging part was how to teach students to find their love of robotics. Not many students in my area know much about robotics, but once they gained that knowledge they have been amazing at this program. The most rewarding part is being able to offer a safe space to students who didn’t fit into other extracurricular activities. Allowing them to be themselves and foster a sense of self through the robotics program has been the most beneficial and rewarding experience I have ever felt.
How do you create a community within your group?
Each team feels like a family. We see each other more than anyone else, so we begin to act like a family. The middle school teams are like the big brothers/sisters for the elementary school teams and help when they need a solution. They learn so much from each other. They are different but are like-minded which helps them not go astray. It's really a beautiful thing.
What advice would you give to anyone interested in getting involved with robotics?
Do it. There are students who are longing to belong, and this is the perfect space for them. If you need any help, I am glad to offer my assistance but the REC Foundation will help you along the way. Don't be afraid of being new. Just start. The hard part is over and the fun will have just begun.