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Jul 6, 2018

The Clavius Project Brings Robotics to SJC

Schools have closed so students are at loose ends. Over at Saint John’s College a first of its kind summer camp is capturing the attention of young high school students. It is not the usual summer camp of arts and craft; students with the acumen for computer science, engineering and math have enrolled in a specialized and interesting programme to build robots. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports. 

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

There’s an entire raft of activities for students to take on every summer, either as a means of recreation or to gain some extra credits in school.  For every swimming class there is an intermediary math course being offered, or a football camp kicking off somewhere.  This year, the students of SJC are trying something new and different.  Of all the choices offered, they are enrolled in a robotics programme, the first of its kind in the country.

 

Keron Warrior

Keron Warrior, 3rd Form, SJC

“Building a robot takes time and patience, putting the right pieces together.  So participating in this helps to make my critical thinking and my observation, [it] improved it.”

 

An interdisciplinary branch of engineering and science, robotics includes mechanical and electronics engineering, as well as computer science.  These technologies are used to develop machines that can take the place of humans and repeat their actions.  The Clavius Project began in 2014 at St. Louis University High School, as a partnership among students, faculty and staff.  The idea was to introduce Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics as a teaching aid in urban middle schools.

 

Jeff Pitts

Jeff Pitts, Director, Clavius Project

“A bunch of our students had gotten together and started a robotics team and at their first competition they realized that there was a lot more to the competition to the first organization than just building and competing with a robot.  There’s service, there’s leadership, sportsmanship.  It just goes on and on.  So after their first competition they came back and one of the leaders of the group, Eric Burke, said, “You know what, we really ought to try to do some community service.  Why don’t we bring robotics to middle school students in or around the St. Louis area.”

 

…and that’s how the idea for the initiative came to be.  Named after Christopher Clavius, a German Jesuit mathematician and astronomer responsible for the Gregorian Calendar, the most widely used civil calendar in the world, the programme has achieved considerable success and impetus in just a short period of time.  Today, it is being introduced to students of St. Martin’s through the Society of Jesus.

 

Matt Ruhl

Fr. Matt Ruhl, Pastor, St. Martin’s de Porres

“A lot of our children at St. Martin’s are very visual and hands-oriented and so we needed to find something that would capture their attention, and robotics they find fascinating.  And so, the Clavius Project out of St. Louis teamed up with St. Martin’s and St. John’s College and so now we have this little project going on here and this will culminate in a jamboree over at St. Martin’s.”

 

A handful of kids are putting together an EV3 Lego Mindstorm, a hardware and software platform produced by Lego for the development of programmable robots based on Lego building blocks.  Keron Warrior is among them.

 

Keron Warrior

“You always have to have an open mind to things.  When you have an open mind to learning, you will always learn new stuff.  Like, I never thought I could build a robot until today.”

 

According to Mirta Peralta, President of St. John’s College, the idea is to expose as many students who are interested in that field of science to diverse opportunities in the future.

 

Mirta Peralta

Mirta Peralta, President, St. John’s College

“It’s very important for our students.  We have thirty students from the high school that are going to be going up to third form, the science students.  We also have mentors from the high school, mentors and teachers from the junior college.  So we have a total of fifteen persons from St. John’s College participating in terms of being mentors and thirty students being participants in the camp.  It is very important for our students to be marketable, but also that we are going to create diverse opportunities for our students and I think that this robotics is going to do that.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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