In 2016, Marillac St. Vincent started our first after school robotics program for youth, ages 11-14. We were excited to introduce robotics and engineering concepts to the neighborhood children, given that this learning discipline is not easily accessible in the populations we serve. A robotics team was formed out of the program participants, with the intent to compete in the First Lego League Aqua Adventure Challenge. Team MSV attended the competition and finished 6th out of 10 on their first go.
Through this program, kids have learned not only what it means to code, but their collective eyes have opened to the world of science, technology, engineering, and math fields. Aakash Shah, Volunteer Robotics Coach and longtime volunteer in the Math and Science programs at MSV, has experienced first-hand the growth in the children, “We've seen them go from thinking that robotics is hard to seeing their excitement as they realize the endless possibilities of what they can build.”
At the First Lego League Aqua Adventure Challenge, each team was instructed to design, build, program, and test their robots to improve the flow of water from a water plant to a community as well as the water’s journey back to the water processing facility. Team MSV finished 6th overall but won the award for Best New Team at the competition.
It is vital that we continue expanding the horizons for the children in the community, particularly in areas that will provide them with a clear path toward potential career interests or help them think critically in ways that will help them academically. Aakash has shared that he routinely receives questions from a number of youth asking when they can join the robotics program. With the support of our donors and volunteers, we can continue to grow these kinds of programs, allowing more children to participate in the future.