Inspirational Teacher Builds Robotics Club, Leads Students To Early Success

 

By Paula MacDonald

There is an energy in room 633 at Lennard High School in Ruskin, but it’s not coming from the tiny motors that robotics club students are working on to power their latest creations. This energy is much more powerful and it emanates from its club sponsor and science teacher, James Reve.

Reve, a retiree of Lockheed Martin Aerospace who arrived at Lennard last year from Durant High School, is well on his way to building one of the best robotics programs in the county in just under a year. His enthusiasm and excitement motivates and inspires his students to learn and build amazing mechanical creations.

With the support of department head Margaret Oggero and school administration, Reve started the Lennard robotics club in April 2013. The club experienced early success, coming in 2nd place overall and 1st place best design at the NASA EggLander event and 2nd place overall and 1st place most robust design at the BEST robotics competition.

Launched with just seven students, word spread quickly of the club’s accomplishments and Reve’s gusto and leadership. This year, 35 students are members of the after-school program, which meets twice weekly. Several more students have been turned away due to lack of materials.

It was this lack of materials that concerned Mr. Reve and motivated him to seek help from the Sun City Center community in January, asking for donations of supplies to enable the club to build four “battle bots” for an upcoming competition at USF. Debbie Caneen, director of admissions at Sun Towers Retirement Community and other members of the Sun City Center Chamber of Commerce helped to get the word out to many business owners in the SouthShore community.

Reve has been delighted by the community’s interest and support. “We’re a Title I school, so a lot of our students would not be able to participate in extracurricular activities if not for the help of the community. I’m overwhelmed by the businesses that have stepped up to support us and hope to continue to build and grow this program.”

The club has received contributions from the Community Foundation and Sun Towers residents’ fund as well as donations from many area businesses of supplies needed to build robots, like PVC piping, electric pumps, drills and even an old copy machine.

Sam McAmis, third year USF mechanical engineering graduate student, mentors Lennard students in robot construction and advises on appropriate materials for building strong battle bots. For many students, the robotics club could mean the gateway to college and an engineering degree. Lennard senior, Alejandro Amezqua, has been a member of the club since last year and plans to continue to study engineering in college. He credits Mr. Reve’s energy and dedication to the club for its success.

“You always hope for a person like this to be your mentor,” Amezqua explained. “His energy, you don’t expect that from your teacher. He’s done everything possible to make this club what it’s become.”

The club also hopes to receive enough supplies and donations to participate in an Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROV) competition in May in Cocoa, Florida.

To help with supplies or donations, contact James Reve at 641-5611 x455 or james.reve@sdhc.k12.fl.us.