HICKMAN -- Hickman school engineered a way to get kids enthralled with math and science: Add robots.
Last week, kids showed off what they'd learned with what they'd made, inviting families to join in the fun, and Justin W. Capp Engineering & Design to take a bow.
Engineer Dan Mehl, one of three Capp employees who lead five weekly sessions, used the time Tuesday to photograph his students with their Lego-based creations: battle bots, bulldozer bots, golf bots and obstacle course bots.
"Most of engineering is problem-solving," Mehl said between grins and clicks. He said the kids creatively calculated their way around the roadblocks far faster than he expected.
The structural engineering firm ran the class and provided materials for 20 Hickman fourth- through eighth-graders, all home-schooled through the public charter school.
It was a way to give back to the community and help raise awareness of engineering careers, said Monique Capp, wife of Justin Capp and a Hickman Charter mom.
Working with specialists brought in from Germany and Italy, her husband saw a need for home-grown expertise. "We're helping to be a part of that (educational) infrastructure," Capp said. "We wanted to get kids thinking and experimenting and excited."
The program was good for the firm as well, giving engineers a creative outlet, she said.
Hickman Community Charter District Superintendent Paul Gardner said his teachers trained the technical team on how to set up the class. The engineers, in turn, helped teachers see the power of hands-on learning, he said.
Special education teacher Dave Rose said the robotics class was a boon for his student. "I liked the individual creativity of the kids," he said. "It's been very fun to see how my guy was able to fit in and rise to the challenge."
"A Lego Mindstorms kit is at the top of his Christmas list," he added with a chuckle.
The kids said they liked the challenge of building and programming a robot and a chance to play with Legos.
Hickman Charter mom Alice Conners said her eighth-grader "absolutely enjoyed" being part of the class and may even follow it as a career.
"This has really opened up some opportunities because robotics are everywhere," she said.
Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2339, and on Twitter, @NanAustin.