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The Vex Robotics League of Chula Vista held its final competition for the year at Sweetwater High School on January 18. While many praise robotics programs for their connection to the new educational buzz word STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) — the catchword for parents, coaches, and students was: team work.

The majority of the league teams are from the Sweetwater school district. Middle school or high school students who make the team receive a kit then work together through a semester to assemble a small robot capable of moving a beach ball down a small court — a game slightly reminiscent of basketball.

Haley Salazar

Haley Salazar

Haley Salazar, a science teacher at Otay Ranch High School, organized the league. She said that in the past, when she was taking her students to Los Angeles, San Jose, even Nebraska for tournaments, she noticed that a lot of other schools in the district only came to her local tournament because they didn’t have the money or the parental support to go anywhere else.

So, Salazar decided to start a league. She said the league was able to get grant money for the schools on the west side of Chula Vista because they do not have the same resources as the east side.

Salazar said, “I called all these teachers [who were or would become coaches] together in my little chemistry room at Otay Ranch — 'This is what I’m thinking of doing, but only if you’ll be able to host an event.’”

Robotics coach Joshua Hill, a biology teacher at Mar Vista, said that in addition to teamwork, the students learn critical thinking and how to code a computer.

David, a student from the Mar Vista team said one lesson he’s learned is “The importance of little screws.”

Two female teammates from Rancho del Rey, Gabrielle and Noel, said everyone on the team is an engineer, and though they all divided the labor, everyone helped with the design. They said their bot was named “Vic,” for “Victory.”

The best endorsement for the robotics league came from Brenda and Andrew, whose son is on the Otay Ranch team.

Brenda said that their son, Gabriel, was only a freshman when he made the team. She said, “He’s always been a little different; academically he’s very high but he’s been dealing with a little bit of bullying because of his maturity.

“Our son has played soccer since he was six and he understands teamwork, but in the sports world there’s a lot of kids that feel they need to outshine the next person. He’s never been that kid; he’s always been the kind of kid that wants to help everybody along and make sure everybody makes it.

“The first time we went to a tournament last year, I almost cried because I saw my son laughing and talking to kids that were older than him. They accepted him for who he was. [Salazar} showed them how to be a team, how to have camaraderie.”

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Comments

bbq Jan. 24, 2014 @ 11:09 a.m.

Having been accused of being one of the Ed Cave people, Citizens against virtually everything... I applaud these efforts, but we do not touch enough of our students....

Here is a prime example of "Hands on", work through it, problem solving!

This is exactly what our general academic policies in Sweetwater Union High School District lack.

The value of being able to use all of your senses to create, the feeling of putting screwdriver to screw, the creation of an operating or complete machine or object is completely lacking in our "College Prep", "teach to the test" core curriculum.

I am of the mind that the current and near term "Core Curriculum" have created a vacuum around the joy to learn for learning's sake. The tedium of lecture, reading and multiple choice test must really suck for our kids. We have removed or seriously limited, the experience part of education from our district and are creating a bunch of Mechanically Illiterate and unmotivated students.

Here Ed, right in your face is what has been systematically removed from the "Normal" everyday in every school education while you have been in tenure at SUHSD. These programs are what makes a student successful, gives meaning to 'Higher Education" and you have all but striped it out of the district in search of Test Scores, which you've also failed at.

I applaud the volunteers, parents and teachers that give our kids a chance to experience the world... and for being examples of Participation, Responsibility, Teamwork, the concept of group dynamics, Respect and Self-respect.

This is what education is about and should be about for every student, everyday, in every school in the district...

BBQ CAVE Citizens Active for Value in Education

7

anniej Jan. 24, 2014 @ 11:10 a.m.

I would like to THANK Ms. Salazar, Ms. Hill and ALL of the SUHSD teachers who have and continue to inspire the students of the SUHSD. Please know that ALL of you are respected and appreciated - we, the parents,grandparents, and community members 'GET IT' - YOU SO MATTER.

A, ONE, THAT SPECIAL educator can make a difference - you all do it every day.

When I was a teenager the football coach at Hilltop High accepted my invitation to be my 'father stand in' at a father daughter chili night. My father had reinlisted and had been sent over to Vietnam - he was a corpsman and, in truth, I lived in fear every day that he I would never see him again. This coach lived in Del Mar yet took time out of his personal life and away from his family to take me. That one night meant more to me than words can explain, for one night I was able to laugh and live in the moment, I am now 64, yet this one act, by an educator (geography teacher and football coach) I have never forgotten.

How many SUHSD educators are doing the same, making a difference in their students lives? MOST I AM SURE

9

theyknowmeascoach Jan. 24, 2014 @ 11:49 a.m.

Anniej I appreciated reading your story. Coaches care.

6

eastlaker Jan. 25, 2014 @ 12:44 a.m.

So glad to read this!

The human spirit can be indomitable, and good teachers are one big reason why.

Good things take place in this school district not because of the superintendent and the board of trustees, but in spite of the superintendent and trustees.

Board President Cartmill, do you see yourself for what you are? Do you want to be better than that? Why not remember your teacher and colleague Ruth Chapman, and live up to her example?

4

shirleyberan Jan. 25, 2014 @ 2:11 p.m.

Encouraging and Lovely - bbq will you run for school board?

2

erupting Jan. 26, 2014 @ 8:02 a.m.

Wouldn't it be great to hear about more individual success stories like this. The Robotics program has been a motivator for students since it's start. The only problem is needs to reach more kids. In this instance larger is better, regardless of cost. Go Robotics!

4

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