NASA: robotics is now an official school activity | Local News


FAIRMONT – Starting next week, students across Mountain State will have the opportunity to select robotics as an extracurricular activity recognized by the West Virginia High School Activities Commission.

Starting November 1, high school students involved in WVSSAC will be able to participate in robotics as part of a sanctioned activity. The new classification allows recognition and parity of robotics programs to thousands of students. The official rules will be presented for adoption by high school principals at the annual Board of Control meeting in March 2022, subject to final approval by the West Virginia Board of Education.

The NASA Independent Verification and Validation Program Educational Resource Center has played an important role in the defense of robotics in West Virginia. The ERC team at NASA’s Katherine Johnson IV&V facility at Fairmont manages the West Virginia Robotics Alliance. The ERC is funded by a grant from NASA and managed by Fairmont State University.

“We hope that the recognition of WVSSAC will increase the number of West Virginia schools participating in competitive robotics,” said John Holbrook, ERC. “Ultimately our goal is to see robotics teams from every county in West Virginia.”

Todd Ensign of ERC believes this new support will make that hope a reality and give hard-working students proper recognition for the hours they spend building, programming, testing and training after school. , and to go to tournaments.

“Students can now receive a university letter in robotics, gaining recognition similar to that of thousands of students currently in fanfare or other sports,” he said.

NASA and the IV&V program have sponsored teams to new schools for the past four years, and according to IV&V program director Greg Blaney, it was worth it.

“NASA’s IV&V program has partnered with Fairmont State University for almost 10 years, inspiring students across the state of West Virginia,” he said. “Robotics becoming a school activity is a dream come true knowing that every student in the state will have the opportunity to get their hands on an experience that could lead them to a great career right here in their home country. “

The robotics season will run from November 1 to May 30. Adding robotics as an extracurricular activity through WVSSAC may increase participation, access and acceptance of robotics as a recognized competitive program with greater support. Some schools will start offering events at the start of the season, while most will take place in the spring to align with the state championship tournament scheduled for late May. Individual high schools are encouraged to offer robotics meetups, including untried robot games and skill races.

NASA’s ERC IV&V has been a driving force in several robotics initiatives and has seen engagement grow from about 500 students to over 6,000 and more.

“Since I got involved in competitive robotics 13 years ago, the number of teams in the state has increased tenfold,” said Ryan Utzman of the ERC. “The recognition by WVSSAC is an exciting reflection of the incredible efforts of the students, coaches and teachers who have made this growth possible. “

The management of West Virginia’s largest school district applauds the decision, saying robotics plays a central role in preparing students for the future.

“Kanawha County Schools have been dedicated to advancing our county wide robotics program and we are very pleased to see it recognized as a sanctioned activity by WVSSAC,” said the County Superintendent, Tom Williams. “So many of our students find opportunities for growth and social interaction through our robotics program and being included under the umbrella of WVSSAC will only encourage more students to participate and participate. find pleasure in both daily learning and competitive events associated with robotics. “

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