By: Chelsea Davis-Bibb, Ed.D.
ACREAGE HOME-It is very important that students are exposed to the STEM field at an early age so they can explore their interest and be exposed to more opportunities once they decide on a career that best piques their interest.
The Aldine Independent School District (AISD) is doing its part to expose and teach students about STEM. Recently, Carver, Blanson, and Eisenhower high school created a plan together to compete in the 2022 FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). The FRC is an international competition that promotes schools and communities to work together to build a large 160lb robot that can travel up to 35 miles per hour.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a robotics community that prepares young people for the future through a suite of inclusive, team-based robotics programs for Pre-K-12 students that can be facilitated in school or in structured afterschool programs,” founded by noted entrepreneur and inventor Dean Kamen.
Carver High School has been privileged to have FRC National Champion coach Dr. Don Prier, who has been mentored by Edna Griggs since 2015. Dr. Prier formed a team in 1999 along with Jeneva Westendorff that took on the best in the nation and won.
Dr. Prier has been at Carver High School for the last two years and he has seen improvement in students’ interest. He stated, “When some kids first started the program, they had mediocre grades, but now they have good grades because they have a purpose now. They feel like they need to develop their skills so they can make robots and be competitive.” Students are also going out and developing their skills and even receiving job opportunities by companies who are interested in what they’ve built. Dr. Prier mentioned, “By doing the FRC, it has provided careers and students grow their skillset.”
The 44 Engineering Group took on a “daunting task, which was to build a robot that could pick up very large tennis balls and shoot them into a ring that was positioned ten feet above the ground and then pull itself up a structure.”
The robot they created was named Victory. It was painted blue and white in honor of George Washington Carver and his affiliation with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated. The robotics team chose the name, “The 44” to give praise to the community of Acres Homes, as this is how it is identified by the bus line that transported Blacks and minorities to and from downtown Houston. “The robot was also styled to look like a bus to honor the community of Acres Homes and the location of Carver High School where the kids worked.”
This year, The 44 Engineering FRC Team won the Rookie Inspiration Award, which one of only four are given out at the FIRST World Robotics Championship.
Dr. Prier is very proud of his students and brought in an army of coaches and mentors to help including Timothy Lewis, Justin Long, Tracy Davila, Afton Greggs, Jonathan Valentine, Dr. Dee Wallace, Lillian J. Prier, Andrew Hartnett, Kevin Sevcik, Thuy Le, Lawrence Cook, Charles Carter, Allen Gregory, James Schattle, Tory Richardson, Ebony Taylor and Dr. Tracy Robinson.