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Students gain technology, marketing skills from robotics competition at CASE Kids’ Day at HP

Fourteen teams of elementary and middle school students were tested on their ingenuity and creativity skills by competing with programmed robots during the Cooperative for After-School Enrichment’s Kids’ Day at Hewlett-Packard.

Using LEGO Mindstorm kits, students design, program and market robots capable of surviving various challenges. During the one-day competition, teams use their robots to navigate obstacle courses designed by HP engineers.

The annual event held at the HP Houston’s campus is made possible through donated equipment from HP. The company also assists with development of the robotics program administered through CASE after-school programs. HP dedicated its staff and facilities to the event and donated prizes to the students.

CASE students have prepared for the competition in their after-school programs for the past three months with an established curriculum. Participating teams are from the following school districts: Aldine, Alief, Houston, Pasadena, Sheldon, Stafford and Waller. Several charter schools and community centers also participate.

CASE AmeriCorps members taught the HP curriculum at many of the after-school sites. AmeriCorps members lead students through hands-on lessons that are part of a curriculum aligned with state educational standards and explore careers in math, science, technology or art.

CASE Kids’ Days are fun, educational projects that connect after-school programs to real-world experiences. Events give students opportunities to network with math, science and technology professionals.

Three categories of judging allowed for healthy competition for the teams. Computerized motor vehicles built from LEGO Mindstorm kits found their way through complex tracks with specific feats to perform. A marketing competition judged teams who touted imaginary robots and the merits of their services. A “speed demon” race judged vehicles in a distance/speed exercise.

Winners of the competition for 2014:

Overall winners (average of all categories): 1st Place tie-Kruse Elementary School (Pasadena ISD) and Roberts Road Elementary School (Waller ISD); 2nd Place-Stehlik Intermediate School (Aldine ISD); 3rd Place-Southwest Elementary School (charter). Robotics winners: 1st place-M.D. Anderson YMCA; 2nd place-Kruse Elementary School (Pasadena ISD); 3rd place-Roberts Road Elementary School (Waller ISD). Marketing winners: 1st place-Heflin Elementary School (Alief ISD); Roberts Road Elementary School (Waller ISD); 3rd place-Kruse Elementary School (Pasadena ISD). Speed Demon winners: 1st place-M.D. Anderson YMCA; 2nd place-Roberts Road Elementary School (Waller ISD); 3rd place-Fifth Ward Enrichment Program, Inc.

About CASE: The Cooperative for After-School Enrichment, or CASE, is a division of Harris County Department of Education and supports over 55 after-school programs which serve more than 5,000 children in 10 area school districts and four charter schools throughout Houston and Harris County. After-school programs keep kids safe, help working families and improve academic achievement. CASE is endorsed by all 25 Houston/Harris County school superintendents. Go to www.afterschoolzone.org for more information.

About Harris County Department of Education: HCDE provides education services to the general public and 25 school districts throughout Harris County and beyond. Services include adult education, programs to promote safe schools, after-school programs, therapy services, professional development for educators, special schools, alternative certification for principals and teachers, Early Childhood Intervention and Head Start programs. We offer purchasing procurement, grant development, program research and evaluation, records management, and school finance support. Since 1889, our services continue to evolve to meet the needs of our education public. Visit us at www.hcde-texas.org.

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