Club gives students firsthand experience in academics

Ismael Perez By Ismael Perez

Nov. 24, 2017 at 8:12 p.m.
Updated Nov. 25, 2017 at 6 a.m.

From right, Emilio Hernandez Chris Flake and Michael Foster work on Big Blue. Edna High School's robotics club, RoboCowboys, will be competing in a UIL event in Frisco on Dec. 7-9.

From right, Emilio Hernandez Chris Flake and Michael Foster work on Big Blue. Edna High School's robotics club, RoboCowboys, will be competing in a UIL event in Frisco on Dec. 7-9.   Evan Lewis for The Victoria Advocate

EDNA - Big Blue, a small robot made of wood and wires, rolled its wheels on a mission to prevent a make-believe fire from spreading at a classroom in a high school's agriculture building.

The robot's actions and the results it produced couldn't be more real for 14 students who have gone on a long educational journey with Big Blue.

"There's definitely been a lot of trial and error as we have been coming up with the design," said Michael Foster, 17, who was one of the engineers involved with the robot. "So, it was definitely a surprise when we found out we were advancing to state."

The Edna High School RoboCowboys, a young organization that started last year, will be competing at the Texas BEST and UIL State Robotics Championship on Dec. 7-9 in Frisco.

Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology, or BEST Robotics, organizes annual robotics competitions that introduce students to engineering, problem-solving and teamwork.

Deborah Casey, a teacher at Edna High School and the club's mentor, said the program provides students with a taste of what it's like to work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.

She said this year's competition theme is "Crossfire," which focuses on fire prevention.

Each team must design a robot capable of cleaning toxic waste, putting out a fire and rescuing a person and delivering them to a safe environment.

As important as Big Blue may seem in a robotics competition, Casey said there are other components students need to complete.

The students must provide an engineering notebook, construct an educational exhibit, show sportsmanship and give an oral marketing presentation.

Shane Darilek, 17, who is part of the marketing team, said the club has helped him and his peers take control of their education and their lives.

"Ms. Casey was there guiding us, but we decided how this was going to be, how big and what we were going to say during the presentation," he said.

Casey said before the RoboCowboys were established, there was no other organization on campus that gave students hands-on experience in science and engineering.

She also said the reason the students advanced to state was their dedication to the project after school hours.

"It was definitely their work ethic; they put in the hours necessary to assemble whatever they needed," she said. "A club like this encourages them to be interested in science, math, engineering and marketing."


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