Sound futuristic? It isn't; just ask a group of after-school students at St. Stanislaus Kostka School in Maspeth. A group of 14 middle school students there recently participated in a Maspeth Town Hall-sponsored after-school program, where they learned the science and engineering necessary to build robotic Lego machines.
Congressman Joe Crowley, who appeared at Town Hall earlier this month, secured funding for the science program, which will soon be launched at other school locations across Maspeth. The money goes towards materials and paying for Town Hall staffers teaching the program.
On a recent afternoon break at St. Stan's, students showed off their Lego robots, built over a four-week period at the school between March and April. The group built four robots out of Legos, each in the shape of a motorized vehicle that can move around at the push of a button. One was shaped like a tank, another like the fictional Batmobile.
Once activated, the little robots slithered, slid, and squirmed across desks and the classroom floor. All were programmed to turn around, after colliding with another object, and keep going.
"I thought the whole program was fun," said John Luke McFadden, 13. "Especially making the robot and seeing it move."
McFadden's classmates were equally surprised, and proud that they learned the technology to produce working robots. Crowley has said the program is aimed to inspire in students a newfound love of science and engineering.
"Robots are probably going to be a part of the future," said Brian Hughes, 13, "so it’s good that we know how to do this because it might come in handy."
St. Stan's principal, Sister Rose, said the students who volunteered for the after-school program were indeed inspired through working with Town Hall staff members, who showed them step-by-step how to build the machines.
"It's a wonderful hands-on activity for the children," said Sister Rose, who noted that attendance for the popular, month-long program was perfect. She said students not only learned science skills, but also expanded their logical and creative thinking capacities.
"We appreciate the funding [from Town Hall] very much, and hope it will continue so the children can benefit from it in the future," Sister Rose said.