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Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Mar. 4, 2019 2 weeks ago

Hinson Middle School robotics club cultivates STEM knowledge, team work and friendship

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The Technadoes made it to the First Lego League regional championship for the second year in a row.
by: Jarleene Almenas News Editor

The Hinson Middle School Technadoes have taken the area's robotics tournaments by storm — with Legos.

The school's robotics 10-student team has only been together for two years, and made history last year at its school by making it into the First Lego League regional competition. This year was no exception — the Technadoes' robot Crusher helped them rank high enough to compete in regionals again this February in Winter Haven, where the team won second place for mechanical design out of the 48 teams at the championship. 

Hinson Middle School teacher and team coach David Prather said he was impressed with the student's dedication to the team. The Technadoes only officially meet once a week, but the students met almost every day on the weeks leading up a tournament since mid-September when the club took off. For this tournament, the students had to come up with a problem dealing with space and a Lego robot to solve it. The Technadoes' Crusher robot was built to shoot out a net and capture stray cubesats, which would help prevent these miniaturized satellites from crashing into one another and endangering orbiting space stations or manned missions.

"I was also extremely proud how they persevered at the tournaments, even if things started off rough," he said. "Some kids were programmers, some kids were project developers, some kids were robot builders, but all learned important core values of professionalism, communication and team work."

Prather said robotics are only taught through STEM elective classes in the county, and teams competing in the tournament are after school clubs like the Technadoes that must raise funds or get private donations to sustain themselves. He said he is proud of the support the student's parents provided to the club. 

For student Jaron Weinand, being part of the Technadoes was one of the biggest learning experiences of the year. He worked on the programming portion of the robot, and said that the knowledge gained from robotics could one day help improve the world.

“I really like how much you learn," Weinand said. "You could learn at your pace and your speed.”

Jack von Heim is one of the youngest members in the club. He's in sixth grade. Staying after school isn't a big deal for him. 

“Once you get like actually into robotics, it’s really fun and you kind of don’t want to leave," von Heim said.

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