Kids, meet robots: 'Tech Monday' gets students tinkering

Jan 30, 2018

Dartmouth’s next generation of engineers hope to inspire their even younger peers with the help of robots and circuits.

On January 29, robotics teams from Dartmouth High, Bishop Stang, and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth took over the Southworth Library, hosting demonstrations of the teams' robots and challenging younger elementary and middle school students to build their own.

Children's Librarian Christie Phillips worked with Dartmouth High robotics instructor Samuel Brodsky to host the event. Phillips said she wanted to bring more science, technology, engineering, and mathematics events to the library, and when Brodsky mentioned the idea to her, the two were quick to put something together.

The event was attended by both of Dartmouth High’s robotics teams. (The program has gained such popularity that the school had to form a second team.)

Ethan Bariteau, who oversees one of Dartmouth High’s robotics teams, helped put together the day’s events with his team. That included teaching attendees the basics of circuitry, and helping students build Lego robots to race through an obstacle course.

“I started engineering in my freshman year of high school and I knew this was what I wanted to do,” Bariteau said, noting he hopes to help younger students discover that passion before they hit high school.

The event comes at a busy time for Bariteau’s team. It just finished its first qualifier for a state competition, and did so well the team has secured a spot in a March 3 event.

When Dartmouth High reached out to other schools, students were quick to offer their support to the event. Bishop Stang’s brand new robotics team participated, with co-captain Amanda Vasconcelos helping a group of kids operate the team’s primary robot using a remote control.

For Bishop Stang’s newbie team, it’s been a bit of a challenge. The team just finished its most recent event close to last place, and teammates aren’t sure if they will be competing any further this season. Still, just competing is an accomplishment.

“We’re just excited about putting our first robot together,” Vasconcelos said.