After a two-year delay, Carpinteria Middle School has launched its long-awaited Automation and Robotics Unit, thanks to the Carpinteria EducationFoundation (CEF) and the Carpinteria Lions Club.

With funds raised at its popular Festival ofTrees, the Lions donated $6,000 and CEF matched the donation to purchase VEX robotic kits, to launch the CMS program.

The module is a component of the Project Lead the Way program and part of the existing media technology elective course at the college. The segment builds on the curriculum that began at the elementary level in 2019, with the goal of fueling future engineering academy-style classes at Carpinteria High School.

Open to all students, the course is for one academic year with three separate classes totaling about 80 students, according to instructor Curtis Johnson, who has a master’s degree in educational technology and was honored as 2016 Educator of the Year. of the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce. .

“This is my first year teaching this program and I find it very interesting,” Johnson said. ” We work together. We learn sometimes. They come up with new ideas that we never thought possible. I stay away as much as possible. Let them create.

“I like working with my friends,” said student Emmanuel Alvarado, noting the program’s safe and eager-to-learn atmosphere.

The Automation and Robotics Unit consists of three units. Students first learn about the design process, create a diagram of the ideal computer chair, then form groups to try to create the chair. Second, they learn about mechanics, which includes learning about parts, their function, such as how gears interact, and how to construct their designs. In this module, they built both a windmill and a pull-along toy, learning how to make the wheels activate other parts of the robot.

Finally, students learn about automation using Coretex, a natural language coding software used to program the robots.

Making the pull toy was student Sergio Flores’ favorite part so far. “I love the pull toy because every time you pull it, something cool happens,” the middle schooler said, adding, “I can’t wait to program them.” He also said he enjoys building the robots and figuring out how to put together different gears to make them move.

“It’s fun to build things,” said classmate Nickolas Baker, mentioning that his favorite part was making parts that he moved other things around.

CMS Principal Lisa O’Shea is a fan of robotics and enjoys it as well. “CMS is very grateful to CEF for the generous donation to the Lead the Way project, which enables RedHawks to engage in robotics,” she said. “Tech teacher Curtis Johnson is the perfect teacher to guide these students in building and programming robots.”

“I appreciate CEF so much. It’s something I would never have had the opportunity to undertake,” Johnson added, “and the kids seem to be having a great time.”

For more information, visit carcares.org.