The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office bomb squad visited Hidden Oak Elementary School where fifth grade students were able to see the robots they use to handle suspicious devices.
“We go everywhere. We’ve had them on city buses, had them in parks, had them at buildings, in lockers. I mean, you name it,” said Travis Devinny, from ACSO’s bomb squad.
Students are in the process of building robots of their own as part of the schools’ robotics program. They noticed that their robots and the bomb squad’s were fairly similar to one another. Both move, lift and pick things up. The squad’s were just more advanced.
“We have problems with our robots too,” Devinny said.
Elementary school students in Alachua County spend an hour in the robotics lab on a weekly basis. The students form teams and are then scored by how well their robots can manipulate their targets.
Fortunately, some students will get to put their robots to the test in county competitions.
Educators see robotics programs as a good introduction to technology and practice with hands-on learning.
“I think it’s great that they let children have this kind of technology because when I was growing up, this technology wasn’t there for us as children,” Devinny added.
Nancy Pearl, a fifth grade teacher, said it’s more than just learning about a robot’s mechanical components.
“It’s that sense of feeling good about themselves, it’s a sense of accomplishment, it’s a sense of ‘I can do this and I can be a better person because I can work in a team and build this robot,’” Pearl said.