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Robotics Students Gear Up for New Year of Hands-On Learning

Sarasota County Schools

Brookside Middle School students compete in a robotics event known as 'Head to Head' at the VEX Robotics Championship in Orlando.

After victories by two teams from Brookside Middle School at the 2013 VEX Robotics Championship this summer, the Sarasota County school is gearing up again for another year of robotics classes and competition.

Student teams from around the nation met in Orlando this summer to attend the fourth annual National Technology Student Association Conference and compete in the robotics competition. The Florida teams with the best results were both from Brookside, with one team finishing third in Robotics Programming and fourth in Robot Skills. The second Brookside team placed 16th overall.

The annual event is designed to showcase student skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The VEX Robotics Design System is a robotics kit that provides the tools needed to design, build and program robots to compete in specific tasks.

"I'm proud of the accomplishments our students achieved last year and I look forward to more learning and success this year," said Technology Education Teacher Joel Kaplan, advisor to the Brookside robotics teams.

Kaplan reports that Brookside has started its first official VEX Robotics class as well as a class in skills promoted by the Technology Student Association (TSA). These two classes are made up of sixth, seventh and eighth graders. All students have chosen to be in these programs and have received recommendations from science and math teachers.

"They've made a commitment to these programs and come to work on their robots or TSA competitions before school as well as in class and during lunch," said Kaplan. "We will be electing our TSA Chapter officers soon; these students will attend TSA Leadership Training in Orlando in mid-October."