Robotics competition boosts STEM in South Mississippi - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Robotics competition boosts STEM in South Mississippi

Leaders say that STEM programs also teach the kids how to problem solve real life issues. (Photo source: WLOX News) Leaders say that STEM programs also teach the kids how to problem solve real life issues. (Photo source: WLOX News)
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education continues to grow in popularity on the coast as teams of elementary students from around South Mississippi filled St. Patrick High School on Saturday for a Robotics competition. 

Fifth grader Emerson Morris competes on St. James Elementary School's robotics team.

"I programmed and I helped with the skits and service project and I helped build the robot," Morris said.

Her team joined 18 other school teams at the regional Lego robotics competition at St. Patrick High School. Roy Cloud, the lead mentor for the competition says the opportunity puts kids ahead of the curve.

"STEM is gonna be the future and this is how it starts. Start them off young and a little appetite goes a long way," Cloud said. 

And it's more than just STEM; the various aspects of the competition are teaching the kids how to problem solve real life issues. 

"Every year they have a purpose, and part of it is the kids have to come up with the project — 'How can we improve the world?'" Cloud said. 

The current theme is trash wars and St. James decided to focus on recycling. For the skit portion of their project they put together two scenarios.

"One of them was a school bus which there were animals outside the school bus and some people out side the school bus were littering," said sixth grader Nicholas Krass. 

Emerson Morris says the other had to do with marine life.

"The boat skit had to do with the gulf and what's in the gulf," Morris said.  

The students had to use critical thinking to solve those issues and their coach Jim Triffley says the best part about the program is that the students are able to learn skills that they will need in the real world.

"Morally teach them respect for others, teaching manners , technically building the robot, scholastically learning how to program the robot."

The top ten teams will go on to compete at the state competition. 

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