CMS launches Robotics Program | News

After a two-year delay, Carpinteria Middle School hasbooted up its long-awaited Automation and Robotics Unit, thanks to the Carpinteria EducationFoundation (CEF) and the Carpinteria Lions Club.

With raised funds from its popular Festival of Trees, the Lions contributed $6,000 and CEF matched the donation to purchase VEX Roboticskits, to launch the CMS program.

The module is a component of the Project Lead the Way curriculum and a part of the existing Media Technology elective at the middle school. The segment builds on the program that started at the elementary level in 2019, with an eye on feeding the future engineering academy-style classes at Carpinteria High School.

Open to all students, the course is for an academic year with three separate classes totaling approximately 80 students, according to instructor Curtis Johnson, who a master’s degree in educational technology and was honored as the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 Educator of the Year .

“This is my first year teaching this curriculum and I find it very interesting,” Johnson said. We’re working together. We teach each other sometimes. They come up with new ideas that were never thought possible. I stay out of the way as much as possible. Let them create.”

“I like working with my friends,” student Emmanuel Alvarado said, noting the safe and eager-to-learn atmosphere of the program.

The Automation and Robotics Unit has three units. Students first learn about the design process, create a schematic for the ideal computer chair, and then get into groups to try to create the chair. Second, they learn about mechanisms, which includes learning the parts, their function, such as how gears interact, and how to build their designs. In this module, they built both a windmill and pull toy, learning how to make the wheels activate other parts of the robot.

Finally, students learn automation by using Coretex, a natural language coding software used to program the robots.

Making the pull toy was student Sergio Flores’ favorite part so far. “I like the pull toy because whenever you pull it, something cool happens,” the middle schooler said, adding, “I’m looking forward to programming them.” He also said he likes building the robots and figuring out how to put different gears together to make them move.

“It’s fun to build things,” classmate Nickolas Baker said, mentioning that his favorite part was making parts that he made move other things.

CMS Principal Lisa O’Shea is a robotics fan and appreciative, too. “CMS is so grateful to CEF for the generous Project Lead the Way donation, which is enabling RedHawks to engage with robotics,” she said. “Technology teacher, Curtis Johnson, is the perfect teacher to lead these students through the building and programming of the robots.”

“I’m so appreciative of CEF. This is something I would never have had the opportunity to undertake,” Johnson added, “and the kids seem to have a lot of fun.”

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