Truckee’s Sierra High School launching robotics program | SierraSun.com

Truckee’s Sierra High School launching robotics program

Jessica Weaver
Special to the Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. — In an effort to allow students the ability to earn vocational and elective credits, Sierra High School will offer a new program focused on robotics.

This elective course simultaneously introduces students to the world of engineering and mechatronics. Sierra High School teacher Trent Kirschner will lead the program.

Having previously started a robotics program at North Tahoe School, Kirschner brought the idea to Sierra High when he transferred there at the end of last year and learned of the school's interest in expanding its elective offerings.

Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field of engineering that includes a combination of mechanical, electrical, telecommunications, control and computer engineering.

Mechatronics engineers unite the principles of a variety of engineering fields in an effort to generate simpler, more economical and reliable systems.

Real-world applications of mechatronics include things like automation and robotics, sensing and control systems, and in automotive engineering, the design of subsystems such as anti-lock braking systems.

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"Our program will offer algorithmic thinking and problem-solving through hands-on, project-based learning," said Kirschner. "Students will practice and learn skills that can be transferred to the working world. … For those who wish to continue their education in engineering/technology, they will have the opportunity to establish a solid base that will allow them to continue by taking mechatronics classes at Sierra College or at another school where they decide to pursue higher education in the field."

In addition to programming robots, students will be introduced to the world of aviation through the in-class project with the use of drones.

Through participation in the mechatronics program, students will learn to assemble, program and fly quad-copters.

Class curriculum will also include projects such as programming a Boe-Bot and an ActivityBot (Boe-Bots and ActivityBots are the manufacturers names of the robots) around sensory-based navigation, including the wiring and programming of components to dictate the ActivityBot's movements and functions.

The Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education Foundation provided funding for the equipment needed to get this new elective off the ground.

The majority of the equipment will come from Sacramento-based robotics company, Parallax, which also played a pivotal role in the equipment purchased for North Tahoe School's robotics program.

"We hope to see a rise in student engagement and cross-curricular involvement through the introduction of this program," said Kirchner. Our student body is engaged more quickly with hands-on and real-life experiences and references."

— Jessica Weaver is an Excellence in Education board member. For more information about the grants provided by Excellence in Education, or to become a "Friend of Education" member and make a donation, visit http://www.ExinEd.org. Visit shs.ttusd.org to learn more about Sierra High.