With robotics set to be a $160 billion dollar industry by 2030 – up from about $25 billion this year – Hirsch Elementary students are getting in on the action without leaving their campus.
The Robotics Club at Hirsch Elementary was created to provide a pathway for 5th-grade students to get exposure and experience with research in robotics, engineering and manufacturing. To provide access to robotics and engineering, Quiana Williams – a fifth grade teacher at Hirsch – applied for a grant through the Spring ISD Education Foundation. Last year, she was awarded funds from the foundation to purchase robot kits that students could assemble to solve real world problems.
Williams said that students were highly engaged with the project from the beginning.
“This club offers students the opportunity to see what they can be in the future,” she said. “If students can see a mirror of themselves, they can achieve it.”
The program has partnered with Greene Tweed, a local engineering company that employs more than 200 engineers in North America, Europe, and Asia in the fields of aerospace and defense, energy, semiconductor, industrial, life sciences, and chemical processing. Engineers from Greene Tweed work with students at Hirsch to research and learn more about robotics and engineering.
According to Williams, the program sets up Hirsch students – many who come from economically disadvantaged families – for success that can affect change in their families and the community.
“The community is relying on these future engineers to contribute to the community and the economy by creating educational and vocational opportunities,” Williams said.
Students worked with Greene Tweed engineers to assemble robots that could bring drinks to teachers, as well as recorded measurements of hard-to-reach places. The engineers also showed students a robotic arm manufactured for space that delivers supplies and medicines to astronauts.
Williams said that, through exploration and scientific inquiry, students are experiencing how the study of robots is changing society by allowing human exploration in spaces and places that are often out of reach.
“Students [have] created a pathway to engineering and entrepreneurship using robotics, while also promoting confidence, collaboration, and effective communication,” Williams said. “These future engineers will be dynamic contributors in innovation, greatly impacting their readiness for college, career and community leadership.”