Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School Students Gear Up to Participate in S.T.E.M. Competitions This Year

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by Diamond Montana, Science Teacher, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School

This month, we’re excited to launch a new Robotics program at Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School. Students will design and program robots twice per week. Their robots will be competing in four competitions throughout the year. As part of the program, mentors from Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) will tutor students in computer programming. The program, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, will give students experiences in STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), career exploration, and will help students gain access to post secondary education.

The Robotics program at Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School is made possible through a growing partnership with Aaron Cortez, of the NEIU Center for College Access and Success, in conjunction with the NEIU Trio Upward Bound Math and Science program. Looking to enhance our Science and Technology program, I reached out to Mr. Cortez, who was excited by the opportunity that our school presented. After the initial meeting, we met with Matt Rodriguez, Principal of Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School, to discuss an initial program. The partnership also got support from Marvin Garcia, President of the Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School Board of Directors, who is also Trustee at NEIU.

    That support resulted in the Summer Program 2014, in which 10 students worked at NEIU in the Trio Upward Bound Math and Science program. Students studied game design, robotics construction, statistics, and the Korean language. They went on trips to the Argonne National Laboratory, Fermilab, and others. As a culminating event, students presented their game design and robotics projects to community leaders, including Mayor Rham Emmanuel. Students from Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School were so successful in the NEIU program, that the Robotics program was implemented on-site at our school for this academic year.

Student Martin Ferrusquia, who attended the Summer Program, explains his experience, “I engineered a robot — a proto-type. I built an 18′ x 18′ x 18′ robot from the ground up. Then, I programmed it so it could move in four directions and so the lift would go up and down. Now I can put engineering on my resume.”

If the school is successful with the on-site Robotics program, this could lead to another level of partnership for a program funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education. With that, we hope our school can implement the Robotics program on an ongoing basis.