Students at Barrington Middle School in Lithia are starting the New Year with an exciting new opportunity. Business Technology teacher Jeffrey Fewell recently started a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) after-school club focusing on circuitry and robotics for the school’s sixth grade business technology education students.
According to Fewell, the club was created when students in his class last year developed an interested in technology and Raspberry Pi computer programming. After research and trial and error, the group decided that purchasing VEX IQ Robotics, a snap-together robotics system designed from the ground up, would be more beneficial for tangible learning for the students.
“The VEX IQ Robotics combine computer coding with the plastic parts and gears, rubber wheels, motors, sensors, wires, batteries and more,” said Fewell, who stated that his main goal is to have a group where the students can learn, explore, feel and achieve. “By packaging advanced concepts into an accessible package, the system also naturally encourages teamwork, problem solving and leadership for students.”
Currently, 35 students belong to the club, named Barrington Bots, which meets after school and is one of very few middle school robotics clubs in the county.
Fewell paid for the club’s first set of robotics kits with his own money, but he has since applied for and received some grants, including one from TECO which enabled him to purchase 10 circuitry kits for the group, and also has a Donor’s Choose page which he hopes will fund more equipment. There is a $30 membership fee for the club if the student does not own his or her own Raspberry Pi device.
With help from Barrington sixth grade science teacher Cynthia Fleming, Fewell is hoping to start additional similar clubs at the school, including a LadyBolt team, a female competition team, that will be led by Fleming and a circuitry robotics team.
“This is a student club,” said Fewell. “They plan it, they organize it, then do it. My job is to get them the resources.”
To learn more about the club and possibly donate to the group, visit www.donorschoose.org/weteach/4095626 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Barrington Middle School is located at 5925 Village Center Dr. in Lithia and can be reached at 657-7266.