Polk State Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School is hosting a series of workshops to introduce students — from kindergartners to 10th-graders — to the possibilities of robotics.
The Robotics in Medicine workshops are made possible through a grant from the Polk Education Foundation. As specified by the grant, the workshops follow a STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics — curriculum.
Anatomy and Physiology Professor Suzanne Ramjattan Halverson leads the workshops with help from several of her students.
During a session Friday, sophomores from Polk Pre-Collegiate Academy used colorful clay to identify organs and organ systems on models of the human body. They also used K’Nex construction kits to build replicas of DNA, brainstormed and sketched robotic inventions, and used modular robotic kits to build simple machines that responded to light and touch.
The day was a fun, hands-on way to complement the learning the students have been doing all year, said Michelle Thompson, who teaches anatomy and physiology at Polk Pre-Collegiate.
“But this experience brings a variety of other benefits as well,” Thompson said. “A lot of these students intend to come to Polk State Chain of Lakes after they finish at Polk Pre-Collegiate. They get to see the school and get introduced to the way Dr. Halverson teaches and all the resources they will have available to them if they come here.”
Each workshop’s activities are modified for age-appropriateness, but the common strand is getting students excited about robotics.
“We talk to them about WALL-E and Baymax,” said Polk State Chain of Lakes senior Sarah Sherba, a mentor for the Robotics in Medicine workshops. “But we also talk to them about the practical uses of robotics in manufacturing and engineering, and the medical side, with prosthetics and robotic surgery. There are so many possibilities.”
By the end of the semester, Halverson and her student-mentors will have hosted workshops for students from across Polk County.
Polk State offers numerous opportunities for students to learn more about robotics, including TALON Robotics, a summer program; LEGO Robotics Enrichment classes; and a competitive robotics team at Polk State Chain of Lakes. Learn more at polk.edu.