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HHS Robotics gets State Support

Ken McLemore

HOPE – The Hope High School robotics program has been awarded a $30,921 state grant as one of 54 career and technical education programs statewide to receive “start-up” funding for next generation classes.

The grant will fund the classroom portion of the third year of the Computer Science – Robotics class taught at HHS, teacher and robotics coach Kathy Knight said.

“This class is separate from the after-school club, but since I am over both we are able to bring the after school into school hours,” Knight said. “This is especially important this year with COVID-19. We are not meeting after school; we are doing the work while in the classroom or virtually.”

HHS has participated in competitive robotics through the Botcat Robotics team since 2016 which has been an after-school team activity until now, but the Computer Science – Robotics class is entering its third year, Knight said.

“This will bring about a Computer Science – Robotics program of study which will allow students to become completers,” she said. “Since you do not have to be in the class to be in the club it will not give credit to all students. However, it will allow us to use the competition part during class, giving a much more hands-on aspect to class.”

The grant is funded through the Division of Career and Technical Education of the Arkansas Department of Education. A complete computer hardware component will be provided through the grant for the class.

Knight said the HHS robotics team has been forced to redefine its competition goals this year because of COVID-19.

“Due to the pandemic, our after-school robotics program looks different this year,” she said. “We opted not to participate in BEST Robotics in September, but we are participating in FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) that runs from January through March.”

Knight said the after-school team has received a $2,550 grant from the U. S. Department of Defense and a $450 grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to fund the FRC entry this year. The program has also received $500 from the Hope Tiger Mart/Blackmon Oil Co. and $200 from the Hope Kiwanis Club for supplies and robot construction equipment, she said.

“This year’s competition is very different; it will be handled virtually and there are three components,” she said. “We can enter one, two or all three.”

Knight said the competition categories include:

Innovation and invention – Students determine a problem or a community need and find a solution that incorporates a design for its implementation and marketing plan as well as a solution prototype.

Game design – Students design a competition game intended for use in a future FIRST Robotics competition setting.

Infinite recharge at home – Students upgrade the team’s competition robot and use it to complete a set of shooting challenges under manual and autonomous operation. Teams will create a video of the robot in action and submit it for judging.

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