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Robotics students get new facility


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Center Grove students using their math and science skills to create robots that can throw a ball or Frisbee faster than most people are getting the new practice facility they’ve been asking for.

Center Grove’s Red Alert robotics team is moving this school year into the school district’s professional resource center, which is the former Maple Grove Elementary School building off Morgantown Road. The resource center, which also houses Center Grove’s alternative academy and will add a day care center in 2015, has a gym that’s perfect for the robotics team’s practices.

 

The robotics team, which has nearly 150 students, has used any open space it could find at the high school to test its creations, which include 120-pound robots that can throw items fast enough to break lights and ceiling tiles.

The open space and high ceiling at the professional resource center’s gym is a perfect practice site for the team, Superintendent Richard Arkanoff told the school board in June.

Center Grove’s hope is that the robotics team will challenge more students to take advanced science and math courses while in high school, which will better prepare them for careers in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

“This is the future of STEM,” Arkanoff told the board. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll go on record to say it again. I think it’s where education is headed.”

In May, members of Red Alert told the board about how joining the robotics team helped them both in their high school classes and while preparing for college.

Team members told the board about how learning how to design, build and program their robots led them to take more challenging math courses, such as calculus, and qualified them for engineering and computer science programs at Purdue University, IUPUI and other colleges.

The experience they gained through the team also qualified them for math- and science-related scholarships.

The robotics team started looking for a new place to practice last year.

The school district wanted students to have an open space where they could test their robots without breaking anything, but other building and construction projects took priority, such as planning $42 million of renovations at Center Grove and North Grove elementary schools and Center Grove High School.

Last school year, the school district also started planning for renovations at the professional resource center, which includes creating the day care center, which will be available for Center Grove employes and students in January. The robotics team should be able to move into the resource center after the start of the next school year, as construction nears completion.

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