Freedom robotics

Freedom students work with robotic kits Thursday during Robotics Club. The club is a new activity at Freedom this year. (Photo provided)

WOODWARD, Okla. — Freedom Schools is launching a new program this year that has students buzzing.

“Even though we are an extremely small school, we are starting a robotics club for 7-12 grades,” said Lead Coach and Instructor Marlo Smith. “These students are very, very excited in the prospect of becoming one of the only FIRST, For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology, teams in Northwest Oklahoma.”

Smith and fellow instructor Bretta Matthews will lead the team. The Robotics Club attended their first event in Oklahoma City in early September.

“We had 9 people attend and received a small grant to help our club get started,” Smith said. “The robotics team is a huge undertaking for any school, much less a small one like Freedom.”

Smith hopes that the club will provide students with more than just the skills to build and program robots.

“It’s way more than building robots,” Smith said. “FIRST Tech Challenge teams (up to 15 team members, grades 7-12) are challenged to design, build, program, and operate robots to compete in a head-to-head challenge in an alliance format. This competition promotes team building within our team and a high level of thinking. Guided by adult coaches and mentors, students develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles while realizing the value of hard work, innovation, and working as a team.”

The robot kits used in the club are reusable from year to year and can be coded using a variety of levels of Java-based programming, according to Smith.

“Teams design and build robots, raise funds, design, and market their team brand, and do community outreach to earn specific awards,” Smith said.

Students that participate in the club are eligible to apply for over $80 million in college scholarships, according to Smith.

The club has not competed yet but will compete with and against other Oklahoma teams later on.

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