STEM Robotics training comes to Marion


Twelve area instructors participated in robotics training sponsored by Tri-Rivers Career Center through a training grant through the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation and Honda of America STEM grant hosted by Marion Technical College August 1through 5. The five-day training provided each participant with more than $1,300 worth of robotics hardware that they will provide to their students. Instructors received training in EasyC, RobotC and robotics PBASIC programming language to manipulate Vex and BoeBot www. robots to compete various, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic (STEM) tasks.

The Vex and BoeBot robotic platforms are used in college classes at Marion Tech as well as in many high school and college classes throughout the country. Many of these robots are also used in the locally hosted National Robotics Challenge  every April that is attended by hundreds of robotic contestants from throughout the country. 

Participants will use this knowledge in their class to help further integrate robotics curriculum into their nationally certified Project Lead the Way   engineering classes. PLTW engineering curriculum is a collaborative effort to expand engineering knowledge in classes taught at Marion Tech, North Union, Tri-Rivers, River Valley, Cardington, Marion, Elgin and Ridgedale schools. Students take end of course exams for college credit though the PLTW program.

Teachers involved were; Brad Potkotter and Mark Robinson of Marion Harding, Ed Goodwin and  Tad Douce of River Valley, Rick Fryman of Cardington, Jodi Kavanaugh and Kristi Matlack of North Union, Dave Sieg of Ridgedale, Ritch Ramey of Tri-Rivers, Drew Mosley of Bowling Green, Matt Farson of Marion Technical College and Jill Eyestone of Upper Sandusky.

Instructors built and programmed robots to complete various tasks and contests. The project based training was modeled after the PLTW curriculum that they will then use in their classes to teach robotics. Training contests like the Robot Bridge Battle, Robot Tag and the Robot Mazes were some of the contests teachers can use in class in engage students and immerse them in robotics programming and training. Students interested in programming can use Carnegie Mellon’s “Virtual World” software to complete virtual missions that use RobotC programming language to navigate a planet. Ohio Vex qualifying contests will be hosted locally by Marion Tech and Tri-Rivers October 28th, December 8th and February 24th. Winners of these qualifiers will be eligible for the Vex World Championship in Anaheim, California April 18th through 21st 2012. Students also can use Vex in 4H, National Robotics Challenge, Technology Students Association and SkillsUSA.

Krisit Matlack, North Union middle School engineering teacher said, “Being able to attend the recent robotics training at MTC was extremely valuable to me for several reasons.  As someone with very little programming experience, this training program helped to give me the knowledge and experience with programming software that I needed in order to teach my own students confidently.  The VEX and Parallax BoeBot robotics equipment that I received through the training is extremely appreciated not only by me, but also by the North Union district and our students, as it helps to give more of our students the opportunity to be involved in our robotics program and benefit from the valuable learning experiences it provides.  Also, I personally benefit greatly from being able to collaborate with other area teachers, learn from their expertise and share their passion for providing fun and exciting STEM-based projects to our students.”

The robotic Vex training was provided by three members of the National Robotic Challenge and Andy Lindsay of Parallax of Sacramento, California . Three local instructors Tad Douce, Ritch Ramey and Ed Goodwin collaborated to instruct the Vex Robotics programming and construction to area teachers. Mr. Douce and Mr. Goodwin have instructed courses for students and staff members in Oak Ridge, Tennessee the last two summers using Easy C and Vex robots. Mr. Douce wrote the 4H robotics book used throughout the country. Mr. Ramey completed a week long RobotC training courses this summer at Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Academy on RobotC programming and navigated the Virtual World. Andy Lindsay is the national training for Parallax robotics and has written the training manuals used by thousands of robotics enthusiasts. “This training was part of an ongoing effort to increase the STEM knowledge of students and teachers in the Marion area.

It is a tribute to the dedication of the instructors of the Marion area college, middle school and high school instructors to give up a week of their time to learn the rigorous programming language used in BoeBots and Vex robots. This will allow students to leave school with the increased ability to use robotics, engineering and programming skills to help promote the engineering knowledge of future technicians and workers of the Marion area. This will help keep our manufacturing community thriving and growing,” Ritch Ramey said.




Tri-Rivers Career Center and Center for Adult Education
2222 Marion-Mt. Gilead Rd. Marion, Oh 43302 • 740-389-4681 • Fax: 740-389-2963