Bird's Eye View News

Middle School Robotics
Students build and program robots.

If there’s a zombie apocalypse, Head-Royce Middle School students will be prepared.

They’re building and programming robots in our After School Program, VEX Robotics. Led by Upper School math and computer science teacher, Juan Fuentes and assisted by Logan C. ’25, a member of the JV Robohawks team in Upper School, the class provides a fun and engaging space for students to design, construct, and code robots to do incredible things—maybe even fend off zombies.

Robotics is far more than the sum of its parts. Grounded in engineering principles and physics, students solve problems creatively and approach design adaptably with hands-on engineering challenges—taking an agentive role in their own education. Mr. Fuentes explains, “Kids notice that they have to pay close attention to the spacing of parts or else things like motors won't align. Building and rebuilding is part of the learning process.” Mistakes are embraced as opportunities to learn—and sometimes a mistake yields the best result.

Programming a robot to perform a task.

The bustling classroom of students meets once a week. During a lesson, students hover over a computer together scrutinizing code and gather around a table or on the floor, with parts carefully laid out, scouring options for their design.

“If a student wants to program a robot to go X amount of distance forward, they need to calculate the diameter of their wheel to get the circumference. Cars with big wheels get a false reading from their speedometer. They are actually going much faster,” observes Mr. Fuentes.

An Upper School student assistant provides younger students with someone to look up to and aspire to be like. Mr Fuentes shares, “Most of the time the kids are bouncing ideas off of Logan. He's great. I hope he continues to work with Lower School students over the summer.”

Robotics has been offered in both Middle and Upper School at Head-Royce for more than a decade—with many more years to come. The award-winning Upper School Robohawks team has traveled to compete in the VEX Robotics World Championships eleven times! And the new South Campus currently under construction will offer dedicated lab space to enhance academic offerings at Head-Royce, including robotics and other disciplines.