Students in The Quarry Lane School's middle school robotics team, The Interns, recently organized an opportunity to share their passion for robotics and love for STEM by engaging with students residing at the McHenry House Family Shelter in Tracy, CA.
The team prepared and carried out a lesson plan that introduced robotics and programming to the students who have had little to no exposure to such an opportunity. During the event, families of the McHenry House were able to play, engage, and learn with Quarry Lane students guiding them through the process.
To leave a lasting impression and provide the shelter's students with the opportunity to continue learning, The Interns raised funds to buy a complete Robotics Kit for the shelter to use for many years t come. The team left the experience having gained valuable insight about teaching others and engaging students with different backgrounds.
"I will never forget the smiles on the kids' faces when they learned of the cool noises that the robot could make," says QLS robotics team member, Dhruv B. "These events make clear that spreading our knowledge can make a visible impact on those who lack the access to many of the tools that we are privileged to have."
Fellow robotics team member, Srishti V., agrees. "The expression on the kids' faces reminded us why we really do what we do and learn what we learn in robotics. The entire time is lucky to have been able to spread knowledge to these young, brilliant children."
The Quarry Lane robotics program participates in the FIRST Robotics Competition circuit—a program that emphasizes teamwork, collaboration, and mentorship. In addition to the McHenry House event, The Interns have organized several other outreach events throughout the year, each providing the students with a unique, rewarding experience that goes beyond traditional "robotics".
"It felt really good to be able to inspire the kids at the McHenry House," says QLS middle school student, Poluk S. "We spend most of the robotics season working on our robot, so it was a nice change of pace to be able to reach out to the community and share our love for robotics. Seeing their pride when the robots they had put together themselves began to move was heartwarming."
The experience was equally rewarding for the team's mentors as well. "As educators, I think we always hope that we are able to make some small difference in our students' lives," says Mr. Richard Ong, Middle School Engineering Instructor and Robotics Mentor for Quarry Lane School. "But seeing our students share the same level of passion and love with others means infinitely more. It reaffirms that good things can and do happen when people care. My students inspire me with their enthusiasm and drive to genuinely go beyond their own self-interests and do good for the sake of doing good. It feels amazing knowing what it means for them because their positive impact is real. It reassures the hope that they will continue to carry those ideals forward, striving to perpetually better themselves and others."
In addition to this event, Quarry Lane School partners with the McHenry House Family Shelter each year for its annual holiday gift drive—providing gifts and gift cards for the families of the shelter. "We are so fortunate to have such an exceptionally kind and compassionate community at Quarry Lane," says Dr. Sabri Arac, Head of School at Quarry Lane. "To see our students take initiative and invest in lifting up others through their passion for STEM and robotics is simply amazing."