A calculator-controlled robot waits to race with other robots, which were programmed by 10th-graders from Wootton High School’s Academy of Information Technology during a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) event at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division Nov. 2, 2016 in West Bethesda, Md. U.S. Navy photo by Kelley Stirling (Released) (Photo by Kelley Stirling)
WEST BETHESDA, Md. —
Students from Wootton High School in Rockville, Maryland, visited Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, Nov. 1-2, to experience a fun way to use a Texas Instruments (TI) calculator.
The 10th-graders were part of the high school's Academy of Information Technology (AOIT) Class of 2019. The AOIT takes approximately 50 students each year who focus all four years of high school on technology. This is the third year the AIT class has visited Carderock headquarters in West Bethesda, Maryland, as part of a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) outreach program, which sees approximately 65 of these tours each school year. The students toured the Carderock facilities, and also had a lesson in programming a TI calculator to operate a robot.
"The calculator-controlled robots class was just a taste of a larger curriculum available to schools," said Tyson Tuchscherer, a contractor with Carderock's Submarine Maneuvering and Control Division.
Tuchscherer originally created the class and its complete technology-focused curriculum when he was a middle school math teacher. He said TI supported the class with equipment, and eventually NASA worked with Tuchscherer to roll the curriculum out to schools.
"These classes provide hands-on math activities, but the kids don't realize they are doing math," Tuchscherer said.
During the class, Michael Britt-Crane, a mechatronics engineer in Carderock's Hydrodynamics and Maneuvering Testing Branch, taught the students how to calibrate and program their calculator-controlled robot so they go forward, backward, turn or spin, and even stop. The students then held a relay race with their newly-calibrated and programmed robots.
Britt-Crane said these classes teach students how robotics are used in space vehicles like the Mars Exploration Rover, as well as automobiles, which are becoming more and more autonomous, giving the students a real-word connection to what they are learning in school.
"The kids really enjoyed themselves," said Barbara Barry, a computer science teacher at Wootton High School, who added the AOIT students are already technologically savvy, and exposing them to places like Carderock reinforces the possibility of a career in a technology field.