U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich: “STEM Is The Pathway To The Middle Class”
By ROBERT NARANJO/valleydailypost.com
El Llano – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, D-NM, was at the Espanola Valley High School on Monday, Aug. 22 for a demonstration by the YMCA robotics team which came home with two Second place awards in a recent Roborave State Competition held at the Albuquerque Convention Center. The YMCA robotics team coached by Ben Sandoval, YMCA Executive Director, is seeking to send an Espanola Valley YMCA robotics team to the international Roborave competition in Nicaragua later this year.
Senator Heinrich was visibly impressed with the “bots” (robots), as the team members call them, that were demonstrated to the Senator by the YMCA robotic team. The Senator had a good time manuvering the amazing robots that the students made and was impressed with what they had been programmed to do.
U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich reviews a robot that the YMCA robotics team used in the recent Roborave state competition held at the Albuquerque Convention Center. Photo by ROBERT NARANJO/valleydailypost.com
The Valley Daily Post talked to Senator Heinrich after the demonstration was over and asked what he thought of the robots that the students created and how well they did in the Roborave competition in Albuquerque. Heinrich complimented the students on their creativity and ingenuity in creating their robots.
“I think it went really well,” he said. “It’s exiting, there’s education and job possibilities in robotics,” he said. As he made his way out of the classroom door, Sen. Heinrich, pretty much summed it with his eye to the future for the award-winning Roborave robotic teams from the Espanola Valley YMCA, in a parting comment when he said, “STEM is the pathway to the middle class.”
The Los Alamos National Labs have been a sponsor and were instrumental with getting the robotics competition started. Janelle Vigil-Maestas with Lab’s Community Partnership Office has been at the forefront of promoting STEM education to students that are a vital component to their overall education. STEM goes hand-in-hand with robotics, vis a vis math, geometry, calculus, etc.
Russ Fisher, a math teacher, put on the first Roborave competition at Rio Rancho Middle School after being asked to “get something going in robotics” by two different teachers. One was an instructor at CNM in Albuquerque. “He taught computer programming and had links to Intel,” Fisher explained. The other was a English teacher at Rio Rancho Middle school.
Fisher said he asked them, “What’s robotics?”
Fisher, who created a 501 c3 non profit corporation dedicated, in part, to the science of robotics, says that robots “are very educational” overall with students, especially these days in the age of computers. But teachers, in general, encourage the students on robotic teams but do not want to teach it, fearing that they may not be completely an expert in robotics.
The first Roborave in Rio Rancho featured nine teams and three countries, U.S., Mexico, and Columbia. The last Roborave International competition featured 1,700 teams from all over the world.
Anyone wanting to help send an Espanola Valley robotics team to the Roborave International competition in Medellin, Columbia, can contact Ben Sandoval, Executive Director, at the Espanola Valley YMCA.RO