King's High School Robotics team launches program for special needs students

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

King's High School Robotics team launches Unified Robotics: After school program introduces robotics, computer programming and engineering to students with special needs or intellectual disabilities.

The CyberKnights, King’s High School’s robotics team, is proud to announce the launch of their new program, Unified Robotics. The student-designed and implemented program is open to students with special needs and a variety of learning challenges. It’s the first of its kind and brings the world of STEM and robotics to high school students with special needs during a 6-week after school program.

The 6-week program model is currently being tested at Roosevelt High School with the goal to sustain and expand to other Seattle schools, so that the final week will include an inter-school competition in the future.

Already students from Ballard High School and Garfield High School are joining King’s and Roosevelt students in this inaugural season. The CyberKnights are documenting each step of the development of the program in order to create a teaching manual for other schools to start their own clubs.

“I am so proud of our students,” said Eric Rasmussen, King’s Schools Superintendent. “One of our goals at King’s is to inspire hearts and equip minds as we develop the leaders of the future. Seeing our robotics team step out and engage with their peers with special needs in this way demonstrates who we are.”

Here’s how Unified Robotics works:

  • Students from King’s robotics team (along with Unity Club volunteers from Garfield and Ballard High School) go to Roosevelt on Wednesday afternoons to work alongside students with a variety of skill levels to design and build robots in small teams of about four students using NXT kits made by LEGO.
  • Each team builds their own robot including designing, building and programming the bot.
  • In their ‘Season Finale,’ each team will present their robot and its features, and then compete in a friendlier version of Battle Bots.

“In only three weeks of participating in Unified Robotics, each member of my team has had a life-changing experience,” said Delaney Foster, CyberKnights CEO. 
“First, we learned ‘success’ has many different definitions. In our previous experiences, success only meant building the champion robot. This program is not only teaching the students with special needs robotics and engineering, it is teaching the robotics students about acceptance and success.”

Tom Ledcke, a teacher from Roosevelt High School, said this about the Cyberknights:
“The robotics team from King’s High School generously offered my students the opportunity to participate in the area of engineering and programming. This was presented in a fun and social setting. I appreciate the hands on approach and modifications that are made to suit the individuals' learning level. More importantly I am witnessing meaningful relationships developing as young people learn about each other’s lives.”

The CyberKnights seek to inspire an interest and passion for science and technology while preparing students to become industry leaders in tomorrow’s competitive global marketplace.

The King’s High School’s award-winning robotics program serves as an educational community within King’s Schools as well as FIRST ® Robotics. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an organization that seeks to further education in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields and provide an environment in which students can grow academically and acquire skills vital to their professional development such as an exceptional work ethic and problem-solving skills.

The CyberKnights serve as the founding team of King’s Robotics, a group of FIRST Robotics Competition, FIRST Tech Challenge, FIRST Lego League, and FIRST Lego League Jr. teams. In its endeavor to successfully embody FIRST values and goals, the CyberKnights seek to create a team culture that sustains their community for years to come. From team recruitment, developing student leaders, maintaining a gender-equal team, serving as FIRST ambassadors in outreach, collaborating with each other in a student-lead environment and asking corporations to support them as the next generation of leaders, the CyberKnights strive to be an organization of people impacting the world for FIRST.

Starting in 2009 in FIRST Tech Challenge with eight students, the CyberKnights have inspired over 10% of the K-12 students to participate in FIRST programs. CyberKnights Alumni have gone on to pursue fields in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), and return to invest in the program as mentors for the current team. The team continues to develop its members in leadership, collaboration, and communication skills.


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