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Ridgefield High School’s Steel Ridge Robotics students lead SpudBot Academy

The Columbian
Published: January 21, 2023, 6:04am

RIDGEFIELD — Soon, students from the Ridgefield High School’s Steel Ridge Robotics team will be teaching a large group of fifth- to eighth-graders.

SpudBot Academy is entirely student-led: students teach other students about science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics, or STEAM for short. The day camps are held a few times each year, giving the high school students an opportunity to share their knowledge and experience — and hopefully inspire some of the younger students to join Steel Ridge Robotics when they’re old enough.

As they discuss lesson plans for the camp, organizers choose the kinds of fun, hands-on activities that got them interested in STEAM to begin with: navigating a blindfolded partner through a painter’s tape maze and building structural towers from paper and marshmallows. They then built these activities into more advanced applications of logic and skill, like programming Arduinos and designing 3D models with Tinkercad. The project whiteboard quickly filled up with agenda items, assignments, and additions.

The build lab at Wisdom Ridge Academy is filled with state-of-the-art machinery, including the robots Steel Ridge Robotics has built, in various stages of completion. Each year, team members build a new robot for the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology robotics competition. At the high school level, students have just six weeks to design robots that compete to perform specific tasks in an arena. Previous years’ themes have included Steampunk, PowerUp, and Stronghold.