Friday, August 21, 2015

Homeschooler Leads Robotics Team to World Championships

Our students have diverse interests and accomplishments. In this post we are focusing on the unique accomplishment of one of our students in the world of robotics.

Sally (name changed to protect privacy) was the Team Lead for a robotics team this year. The team consisted of 50 teenagers from public, private, charter and home schools. They have mentors on the team that have volunteered their services and experiences to assist them. The mentors are either parents of students, employees from sponsoring companies, or members of the community. She says while many of her teammates prefer to work directly with the robot, she loves to be an organizer of people. 

Her organizational skill showed as her robotics team was one of the top 600 teams (out of 6,000 teams world-wide) who made it to the World Championships of Robotics. They finished as one of the top 60 teams! 

This was the first year they have made it that far, and it may be partly due to her improved implementation of the Solidworks CAD program. The 16-year-old says: 
“My inspiration for learning Solidworks CAD came from the fact that our team relied on the 3D computer construction of our robot, yet few students were able to actually use the program. Over the summer of 2014 I took extensive tutorials and online explanations, and I slowly but surely taught myself how to use the program. Through the 2014-2015 season I used my skills to develop small parts that we 3D printed for our robot.” 

Sally was introduced to the robotics team through her family; her sister was previously a team lead and her father is the team president. She says that although she was initially drawn to it through family and friends, she came to love robotics itself and the challenge of organizing a team. Now she is considering the idea of specializing in the field of robotics in the future. Meanwhile, she's looking forward to the challenge of organizing and fundraising for the team, as she was voted in as Team Lead again this year. 

One of the benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility to devote time to a student’s passions. Sally says:

“Homeschooling has allowed me to be very involved in my robotics team. I have more free time, and I can multitask with my school work and the organizational demands of my robotics team. I am able to keep to a schedule with some flexibility since I have to balance school work, robotics, and soccer. Some days it can be a little crazy, and I have to push myself and remember that I love all the opportunities that I am given.”

What is the process that she uses to create her learning plan for each year? She describes it like this:

“My mother and I meet at the end of summer to plan my next academic year. It is a mutual process that involves me first professing my interests and what I would like to study and my mother providing feedback.  For example, my grandfather gave me a collection of Shakespeare’s plays bound in small, leather books that were brought over from London during World War II by my great-great-grandfather.  I brought these to my mother, and we decided that for my English course I would read these plays and write papers concerning them. My grandmother is Hungarian so I picked Hungarian as my language of choice and decided to go to Hungary and stay with relatives there this summer.  This year I am taking two classes at the community college since self-teaching and my mother’s extensive knowledge can only bring me so far. The process of picking what I will study that year depends on what I have access to, my interests, and what my schedule will allow."

It’s quite apparent that she is able to keep her schedule quite full with fascinating activities that are meaningful to her. 

No comments:

Post a Comment