LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- BRYANT, Ark. (KTHV) - The Bryant Middle School gym will transform into a battleground for robots designed and built by kids.
The school’s upcoming robotics competition is one of the first steps for students to get to a world robotics championship competition. As interest in robotics grows among young people, so has the programming for it.
Jason Price, Design and Modeling teacher at Bryant Middle School, said that Bryant’s 7th and 8th grade robotics program has grown so much that in the last year that their program has doubled in size.
“It used to be middle school and high school students competing against each other in competitions and this year we have a separate middle school and high school division,” said Price.
Now, 40 middle school students gather every day in class and in extracurricular settings to create robots. They are also learning skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
“The VEX robotic program seems to be one of the greatest avenues for STEM in Arkansas, so a lot of schools are getting involved in VEX robotics to get them exposed to STEM,” said Price.
Before and during competitions, each student involved in the robotics program has a special role to play. Some students dream up new designs, others focus on programming and coding, and a few also do engineering and building. Piece by piece, these students are also building dreams for their future.
“All these big time companies in tech and STEM are there to promote that what students are doing can lead to those jobs,” said Price.
According to Price, companies recruit students that excel in the robotics program and open doors of opportunities for future STEM careers. He said at the world championship competition, NASA, MIT, Caterpillar, the military and Airforce have attended to recruit students.
Torin Matthews, a Bryant Middle School 8th grader, said that the robotics program will help him fulfill his dream of studying biomedical sciences.
“This [robotics] could help me with it because you have to have precision of detail and be paying attention to what you're doing,” said Matthews.
While the STEM training and future career opportunities are a major focus, Price said the best part is that the students are able to have fun, problem solve, and work as a team. Matthews said he has enjoyed being part of the team atmosphere.
“I’ve learned that for a team to strive you have to work together, be thinking the same way, and be talking to each other and not be mean,” said Matthews.
Bryant’s robotics students have attended the state tournament for the past 3 years and, as a middle school, they won the excellence award. That gave them a shot at the world championship competition. They hope to return again this year by winning their state tournament in March.
Bryant Middle School will host its regional tournament at the school on Saturday, Jan. 13.
Students that win, will qualify to the state championship. There are 64 teams from middle schools and high schools across Arkansas registered to come and compete in this year's competition.
The event is free and open to the public.
For more information you can contact Bryant Middle School.