HB robotics team educates young students at STEM fair

The Hollis Brookline High School Robotics team volunteered their time to educate young students during this year’s STEM Fair at Richard Maghakian Memorial School.

The STEM Fair was started by Jenny Lynch, RMMS’ technology integrator, as part of the ongoing effort to integrate STEM material into the school’s everyday curriculum. Currently, once a week the students have “integrated special,” where they pick which activity they wish to do: gym, library, technology, music or art. There, they participate in activities that weave in STEM-related topics.

“I think this is where we’re headed,” said Beth Penney, science specialist for the Brookline schools, on making science a primary educational focus. “If we want to have science people and engineers in our community, as adults we need to make sure we are teaching them from the ground up.”

Penney noted that already, the kindergarten and first-graders are far surpassing those in the upper grades in their abilities in the field.

The robotics team and their latest robot, Artemis, were one of 20 stations spread around RMMS, created by classes in grades kindergarten through sixth and by community members. They included musical instruments made out of refrigerator boxes and homemade marshmallow launchers. But for the young scientists running about, Artemis was the biggest attraction.

High school students from the team discussed the engineering and design method with the students, as it is a part of the Hollis elementary schools’ curriculum, but not Brookline’s. Co-CEO Carolyn Ferdinand noted that the method is similar to outlining an essay, and can be applied to all sorts of projects in and outside of the engineering field, warranting the importance for it to be taught at a young age.

“We want to bring what is a critical element to our team down when we come to the STEM Fair,” Ferdinand said.

In addition to the engineering and design method, the team talked about how to prototype and the different kinds of systems that the team utilizes. Of course, Artemis put on a show and launched balls around the room, as team members described the building of and the controls behind their creation.

“We really enjoy coming because this is one of the most important things to us, helping to bring STEM into the lower elementaries. Wherever we can help out, we are happy to be,” Ferdinand said.

RMMS faculty are looking forward to continuously expanding the STEM fair and fostering an increasing interest in science among their students.

This column is written by Nicole Poitras, a senior at Hollis Brookline High School. She was among 51 high school journalists representing all 50 states and Washington, D.C., who attended the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference in Washington in June.