A Conversation with The Elko Institute for Academic Achievement (E.I.A.A.) Robotics Teams

“These kids are so smart and gifted!” This thought ran through my (Anthony Crosby) head throughout my time with this week’s featured guests. They were explaining things to me that were, honestly, going way over my head. However, that was okay because I simply enjoyed listening to them get excited about sharing all the fascinating things they get to do every week, things that not only expanded their minds but also developed their character as people. What exactly do I mean? Let me explain.

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This week, I was able to spend some time in a classroom at the Elko Institute for Academic Achievement (E.IA.A.), a local K-8 charter school that is all about promoting self-efficiency in its students. However, I wasn’t at the school to drop in on just any old classroom; I was there to check out their robotics teams! This school group has been doing impressive things to help foster its young people’s minds when it comes to the area of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). E.I.A.A. has two robotics teams that work hard to get their electronic creations to carry out specific missions and tasks. These teams have even had the opportunity to recently compete in regional competitions with other teams from across Northern Nevada! All and all, it’s fascinating stuff, and I’m excited to discuss it more. To help me do so, we have a few of the robotic team members and one of their teachers, Mr. Matthew Shedd.

Let’s throw our first question to our new friend, Dante! Dante, what do you like the most about being part of a robotics team?

“I like programming and building the robots! My dad is an engineer and programmer; I want to be a programmer, so I can go out and do cool things!”

That’s pretty cool! Mason K., how do you all decide what your robotics projects are for the year?

“Each year, we have a theme for our projects. This year’s theme is “city shaper.” So, we decided to work on the flooding with the sewers.”

Mr. Shedd, can you elaborate on Mason K.’s answer for us?

“The kids do a service project every year, where they try to impact their community. With the theme of “city shaper,” one of our teams wanted to focus on the Humboldt River. They did a bunch of research to see what other communities are doing to prevent pollution and allowing foreign substances to get into rivers. Joe Doucette from NDOW came in and talked to us about how our river is getting polluted from the overwatering and over-fertilization of lawns. When this happens, it causes huge algae and grass growth, which can prevent the fish from getting oxygen and slow the river down. This was all something the kids wanted to bring attention to. They put a lot of work and research into this; it’s cool seeing them care about issues in our community.”

Below is a picture of one of the team’s robots and the board it operates on. Mr. Shedd, is this board designed to help carry out that theme?

“The things on our boards are based on real-world engineering projects. As we grow and populate the planet, we need more efficient and environmentally friendly places to put people. So, you can see on our board how we need to develop our cities to be forward-thinking.”

The board used for the robots to carry out specific missions.
One of the team’s programmed robots.

Mr. Shedd, why do you think it’s important for kids to be involved with clubs that focus on robotics and programming?

“One of the big reasons is because of the industry. Jobs are moving more and more towards information and STEM fields. We’re moving towards more places utilizing robots and kiosks rather than physical people in there doing things. So, it’s going to be important to get these kids in these fields. If they can’t get excited and learning about these things now, there’s going to be many more opportunities for them out of high school and college.

“Tesla has actually put a lot of money into STEM education in Nevada. They sponsored six new teams in Elko County this past year. We used to be the only one in Elko County; we’re probably the oldest team in the county, but it’s exploding in the community now.”

We’ll give the last question of the day to Zoya! Zoya, what does our community need to know about your robotics teams?

“Honestly, robotics is all around awesome! It’s great because it combines doing projects and core-values. We gain so many skills through it. It’s fun, but sometimes we have to get down to business. We’ve had our ups and downs as teams, but overall, this has been an amazing year!”

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See you around, Elko!

Blog Credits:

Written by: Anthony Crosby

Edited by: Nadara Merrill

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