SRNS aids robotics programs in 2 Aiken County schools

Jackson Middle School’s Karisa Bush programs a robot while Jacob Ormand positions it as Tywain Smith (far right) provides direction during a recent robotics tournament.

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions boosted its financial support to area schools last week by adding a $9,000 donation to support robotics programs in Aiken County schools.

 

“SRNS has a sincere passion for supporting education outreach initiatives, year-round, throughout the CSRA,” said Kim Mitchell, the SRNS Education Outreach Program coordinator. “It’s at the primary and secondary levels of education within area school systems that our future leaders and the Savannah River Site’s future employees are nurtured, shaped and prepared for life as an adult.”

The funding adds to the annual $20,000 that SRNS gives to Public Education Partners. Mitchell said the $9,000 is being used by PEP to assist science, technology, engineering, arts and math – or STEM/STEAM magnet schools Jackson Middle and New Ellenton Middle. The money is to help jump-start the student robotics programs.

Robotics programs have been springing up at a number of area schools, including the North Augusta High School team that traveled to the state competition in its first year.

Mitchell said a cost-effective method to deepen students’ interest in STEM-based courses is to use them with robots. She said working in teams to build, program and compete with robots greatly increases student interest and participation in math, engineering and the sciences.

“I’ve always been interested in computers and programming,” said Logan Hopson, an eighth-grade student at Jackson Middle. “Working with robots gives us hands-on experience and hands-on building. It’s a completely different perspective related to learning.”

“STEM and STEAM programs work,” said New Ellenton Middle Principal Shunte Dugar. “The impact STEAM-based curriculum has had on our faculty and students have been nothing short of amazing. It is revolutionizing current educational theory, while evolving into a new questioning, tactile method of learning based on collaboration and discovery. We could not be more pleased with the results.”

“Jackson Middle School recently earned national accreditation for our STEM program, one of only 54 in the world today,” said Kishni Neville, the school’s STEM coordinator. “I believe a lot of the credit for this incredible accomplishment goes to SRNS for their long-time support, both financially and through their employees who regularly volunteer to help us.”

Reach Thomas Gardiner at (706) 823-3339 or thomas.gardiner@augustachronicle.com.

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