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Student duo propose robotics class to VVS board of education

Charles Pritchard
Staff writer
email / twitter
Posted 6/25/22

Two up-and-coming high school students are looking to bring robotics to the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School curriculum.

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Student duo propose robotics class to VVS board of education

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VERONA — Two up-and-coming high school students are looking to bring robotics to the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School curriculum.

Eighth graders Andrew Kaido and Joseph Stehlik spoke before the VVS Board of Education at its regular meeting on Tuesday, seeking the Board’s approval for a Python and Robotics elective course for high schoolers.

Kaido explained the core of the class would be learning programming languages and applying them to custom-built robots.

“We’d also be learning about general-purpose input/output pins using Raspberry Pi and Arduinos if we have the resources,” Stehlik said. “We’d be focusing on building robots. Robots are an interesting subject and can be applied to real-world settings.”

The Raspberry Pi is a low-cost, credit-card-sized computer that was created to promote the teaching of basic computer science. On the flip side, Arduino is a single-board microcontroller used for creating electronics.

And with learning a programming language, this can carry over to different fields of study and work for students. 

Kaido and Stehlik walked the Board through some of the aspects of the class and what it would mean from a learning standpoint.

But besides the technical aspect, the two students took finances into account and worked on stretching the dollar as far as possible.

A breakdown of the student’s budget is as follows:

  • One Raspberry Pi — $35
  • Motors and drivers — $19 to $20 for two students
  • LEDs, wires, breadboards, etc. — $15
  • SD storage cards — $4-5

Altogether, the duo calculated it would cost around $60 to $65 per student and $1,625 for one class of 25 students.

“These prices were all found on Amazon,” Kaido said. “And the prices line up, considering our knowledge of our field. “But we believe we can get the price per student lower, especially if we buy in bulk or from different distributors.”

Kaido said the hope of the class is to inspire students, whether it’s to be done in the future as a hobby or as a career. 

“The final exam would be a hands-on STEM project,” he continued. “Students will be providing a product for an issue assigned to the student. They’ll have to document all the procedures, troubleshoot, and make a final product.”

To give the Board something else to think on, Kaido and Stehlik brought out some of their creations. Kaido first showed off the robotic arm that used an Arduino microcontroller. Kaido invited Board Member Ann Pangburn up to give it a whirl.

“It’s a robotic arm made out of servos and using popsicle sticks for the frame and all powered by a nine-volt battery,” Kaido explained.

Pangburn moved the joystick she was given back and forth, smiling and laughing. “That’s amazing,” she said.

On the bigger side of things, the duo brought out the RC car built using Raspberry Pi and a few attachments. But unlike some of the RC cars the Board had seen in the past, this one featured a camera on the front — all through a wifi router he built himself. Controlled by Kaido’s phone and streaming video in real-time, Pangburn couldn’t contain her excitement.

“It’s the same thing that would be in a drone,” she said.

Kaido and Stehlik opened the floor for questions. One of the residents in the audience asked if the plan was to let students take home their projects on their Raspberry Pis. 

Kaido said that would be the plan.

“To save on cost, we can take the parts back if we have to,” Kaido said. “But we want to send the students home with something they make.”

When asked by the Board what the two would do if approved, Kaido said they’d like to have a full year of planning out the full curriculum, with the hopes of implementing the course for the 2023-2024 school semester.

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