Intel sponsors 2017 STEM-Robotics Day at Sacaton Middle School
October 6, 2017
Thomas R. Throssell
Gila River Indian Community
Engineers from one of the world’s leading technology companies, Intel Corporation, volunteered their expertise at the 2017 STEM-Robotics Day to assist Gila River Indian Community students build and program robots.
The event, which was sponsored by Intel, was held inside Sacaton Middle School’s (SMS) gymnasium on Sept. 16, where parents, volunteers, and school staff worked with students to build a variety of robots that were later programmed and sent on missions to perform different tasks.
Over the past several years, robotics clubs in the Community have grown in popularity, with SMS, Blackwater Community School, Gila Crossing Community School, and St. Peter Indian Mission School all hosting their own clubs.
Intel Corporation sponsored the STEM-Robotics Day in an effort to support GRIC’s youth robotics programs and encourage Community students to enter STEM, robotics, and engineering fields.
SMS Science Teacher, JoEllen Kinnamon, who helped organize the event and has been active in the Community’s robotics scene, said the STEM-Robotics Day was held to bring all the Community’s schools together and give their students the opportunity to learn engineering from some of the best in the business.
She said the event was an opportunity for students to get a hands-on experience working with engineers, which could inspire them to pursue careers in STEM fields in the future.
“If this is their desire, they will be working for them and taking their spot,” said Kinnamon. “How many times have we said that in our community, whether it is a teacher, or a [council person], or [a career] at the hospital, we want [students] to take [over those] positions. If the light bulb doesn’t turn on right now, by the time they get out of high school, it will be bright and they will have done something they liked before and get into that field,” she said.
Kinnamon said the day was not only useful for teaching students how to build and program robots, it taught students the important life-skill of commitment.
An important life-skill these students can learn is commitment, whether it is work or school, said Kinnamon. With a job, if you don’t get up and go to work, you will get fired. You have to get up and go to work to attain the knowledge and skill you will need to be successful, and coming in today, the students gained valuable knowledge and experience, she said.
Sacaton Elementary School District #18 Superintendent Cherryl Paul, said the event was great for students to learn about career opportunities in the STEM fields.
“I think this is a phenomenal event for our students who have big aspirations,” said Paul. “We want to make sure they are dreaming big and are recognizing that there are opportunities off of the Gila River reservation, that they can then bring back, and give back and share with those who are still here.”
“We are grateful and humbled by the fact that Intel recognizes Sacaton Elementary School District, that our students are deserving of opportunities, [and the engineers] are able to share their science, their mathematics, and engineering experience, and that students are able to apply it to their everyday life,” Paul said.