The following is a guest post is from two Westlake High School students (at left, from Eanes ISD, TX), Riya Aggarwai & Rachel Gardner, who will be part of a panel at TCEA16 today. Eanes’ Director of Innovation & Digital Learning, Carl Hooker (who will be honored later today with a Thought Leadership Award), asked them to write about the creative work they have done with robotics at Eanes and with others around the world (China is visiting next month!):
Before 2013, driving a FIRST Tech Challenge robot meant finding a laptop, plugging in joysticks, connecting via an unreliable Bluetooth connection, and then trying to carry it all while driving. Three Westlake High School students and a mentor changed that with a device to replace the PC, called the ChapR. After perfecting its design and marketing at robotics competitions, they were able ship over 150 ChapRs to robotics teams worldwide, even patenting the device! By the end of the year, they’d gone through prototyping, manufacturing, marketing, and patenting--an experience most students would never have gotten in a traditional classroom setting. They then established Chap Research to give other students that opportunity as well. The student-led program teaches high school students both technical and soft skills by pitching, managing, and developing STEM projects. Each project starts on a whiteboard and evolves all the way to a final product or research paper. Projects have ranged from a sprocket-generating web application to an augmented reality game. Throughout these projects, students work with industry mentors to learn a variety of business and tech skills. Two years later, Chap Research now has 12 students and 13 projects and hopes to spread its model to other schools.
[Editor’s note: watch for a report on techlearning.com soon about the students’ TCEA panel session, “Student Voice & Perspective Regarding EdTech Today.”]