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STEM effort adds art to learning mix
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From left, Andrea Nolan, Andrew Palomarez and Haylee Cozby piece together their Elephantbot project in the GECAC program at Lincoln Elementary School. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT / The Bulletin

Isaiah Marquez is no stranger to robotics.
He’s from a high-tech savvy family spearheaded by his father, who often enjoys playing around with electronics. “I grew up around it,” said Marquez, who is a sixth-grade student at Lincoln Elementary School.
No surprise that he jumped at the opportunity to sign up for the Robotics class offered by Give Every Child a Chance’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) education.
The first-year program is made possible via donations and fundraisers, according to Director of Community Outreach Chuck Crutchfield.
He indicated that GECAC also has STEAM – that’s STEM only with “Arts” included in the mix – available at the non-afterschool program sites.
Crutchfield said that the Robotic class enabled the likes of Marquez and Emilee Cozby, who happens to be his Tankbot partner, to “learn by having fun and expanding their minds” through education.
It took Marquez and Cozby about two days to piece together a robot made exclusively with special Lego building blocks and an electronic “brain” that can be operated on programs found on their electronic tablet.
GECAC also supplies the electronic Dell tablets for STEM, Crutchfield said.
Marquez played around with putting in voice command and using color sensors to control the Tankbot project consisting of about 35 pieces and a 16-step instruction.
He and Cozby will enter their Tankbot in the Sumobot challenge consisting of at least one more Tankbot along with a Gyrobot and Elephantbot.
Andrea Nolan, Andrew Palomarez and Haylee Cozby worked on the Elephantbot, a much larger robotic consisting of 251 pieces and 97 steps.
“The tough part is finding and fitting the right pieces,” Palomarez said.
Christina Carpenter, who is the STEM Coordinator at GECAC, instructs the Robotics class. She’s also majoring in Computer Science at Stanislaus State.
Along with Robotics, Carpenter has students doing various projects on the 3D printer. Haylee Cozby, who is an eighth grader at Lincoln, made a 3D plastic figure of her house using the software program.
Others were in the process of designing Pokémon pieces.
“The 3D printer makes using layers (of plastic),” Carpenter said. “(Students) want to paint it and take it home.”
Crutchfield was thrilled to see youngsters in the Robotic class enjoy doing the work.
“It lets kids get excited about STEM” he said.