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Robotics Past, Present, & Future

Posted on Feb 27, 2019 11:29:05 AM by Hannah & Elizabeth

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Greetings from Liberty Christian School in the year 2017.  In 2017, there was no robotics program and nobody knew if one even existed.   There were Legos, computers, Knex, and Erector sets.

Then one day, a parent began to explore the options for students to learn more about STEM.  In the late summer of 2017 robotics became a reality for five students, four boys and one girl.  That’s me, Hannah. LCS Robotics 2017

I was the only girl on the team. This  had its advantages and disadvantages. The boys mostly asked me to get things for them or to clean up stuff.  The boys really didn’t think much about me being there and often did their own thing until one day the coach asked the boys to do some documentation in the engineering notebook.

One of the boys responded with the comment,  “Can’t Hannah do that?”. Well... let me just say that never happened again.  My coach quickly stepped up to my defense and told the boys that I was not their secretary.  The whole dynamic of our team changed that day. I became one of the main coders last year and therefore did not do much building or driving.  We ended up having a very successful year with a great STEM project and went to the VEXIQ World Tournament.

 

LCS Robotics Vex ChampionshipThat was such an amazing experience.  I listened to so many motivational speakers who wanted to encourage the next generation of young kids to reach for the stars.  One person in particular that stands out in my mind is Ayah Bdeir. We have chosen her as our STEM role model because she was brave and found a way to make her dreams come true.

She is a female that had a dream and didn’t let anyone stop her.  I am sure that her girl power found it necessary to include men in the making of her Little Bits along the way but she did not let them take over her project.   She had a desire for electronics to reach the hands of all children, male and female. She did so with Ayah Bdeir Roboticsthe invention of Little Bits. They are like an electronic version of Legos.  They are so cool! She had done it, she stepped into a world where men mainly dominated and made herself known.

At the VEX IQ World Tournament she stood before me receiving the 2018 STEM
HERO award and was inducted into the REC Foundation Hall of Fame for her personal and professional contributions to young people.  Ayah said that the power of “electronics should be in everyone’s hands so that anyone can build, pro-type, and invent”. In 2014, Popular Mechanics recognized her as one of 25 makers who are reinventing the American dream for her creation of Little Bits.  Little Bits were created so that at the simplest level children and adults can play with lights, sounds, and sensors without any previous experience. How cool is that? I was so inspired by her that I couldn’t wait to get back to school to tell all my friends about it!   From that day forward everyone wanted to join the robotics team.

                                                                                               

Hannah LCS 2018 Hi, my name is Elizabeth.  

Let’s jump forward to the summer of 2018.  I am one of the girls that was touched by Hannah’s enthusiasm of robotics and her trip to the World Tournament.  

This summer LCS began enrollment for its next robotics team. Three of their original teams members were not going to return in the fall.  After having the first year behind them the LCS robotics team was ready to recruit for year two. This year we have grown from one team to three teams.  Guess what the boy to girl ratio is this year?

I will give you a hint…. It is not 4:1.   It is 7:7! We are equal in number. When we use the term GIRL POWER we do not stress that we are better than the boys.  We just want to encourage other girls to take the step into the STEM environment and see the many fun opportunities that are there for them to try.

LCS Robotics Family 2019

This picture shows the great support of our families.  Without them, none of this would be possible. They support us and our coaches.  They come to all of our tournaments and encourage us even when we don’t get a trophy.

We have as many girls interested as we do boys.  That is a great feeling to be in a group of equally diverse students.  Our LCS Robotics 2019 2coaches make sure that each of the students are equally challenged in all aspects of the program.  We all participate in brainstorming, building, coding, driving, and working in the engineering notebook.

LCS Robotics 2019We all take turns at doing everything so that we know all about our robot and how it was designed and built.  Some of us are stronger in certain areas than others, but we continue to encourage each other to learn and grow.  Our coaches make sure that there is never a job that is labeled as a boy/girl job and therefore we are all treated with equal challenges.  Our coaches really do rock ( by the way, we have two female coaches and one male coach)!

Now let’s travel to the state tournament and beyond… hopefully, the summer of 2019 will bring us even more excited participants and our teams will grow even more as more girls are empowered to step out and feel welcomed to join this crazy, fun, mind challenging, afterschool world known as robotics.  We are beginning to understand that it is about the journey and the things we learn and take with us along the way.

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Should my child join a robotics team?

Posted on Jan 16, 2018 12:00:00 PM by Laurel Robinson

You may have been hearing about robotic teams lately, and wondering if it’s a good fit for your child. There are several robotics teams in the area, and they are worth looking into!  

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First, though, consider the cost and the demand on your schedule.  Teams may meet 2-3 times per week, and fees of $100-$300 may be due up front.  If there is not room in your schedule during the school year, look into a summer robotics camp.

A robotics team can start as early as age 6-10, with a lego-based league that is a more gentle introduction to robotics principles. By high school, the teams are still fun, plus hard work, and more oriented toward coding and technology. FIRST calls their Robotics Competition “the ultimate Sport for the Mind,” and quotes its high-school student participants as saying it is “the hardest fun you’ll ever have.” In addition to FIRST leagues and competition, there is also VEX Robotics with its own teams and competition schedule.

At any age, kids who participate in a robotics program can gain a variety of skills from the experience: in addition to analytical thinking, math, and coding, they will inevitably experience trial and error; problem solving, managing time, resolving conflict, working with a team. These are the kind of life skills that kids can only learn by doing.  

3 Ways To Help Your Child With Anxiety & Stress

Posted on Nov 14, 2017 3:30:00 PM by Laurel Robinson

According the the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 40 million adults in America suffer with a form of anxiety. Children are not immune to anxiety, although they may have a hard time labeling what they are feeling.  

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Is your child stressed out or anxious? Do they dread going to certain places? Do they procrastinate, or have nervous habits, or get stomachaches?  Do they resist activities by acting up? Do they focus only on the negative and what might go wrong? These are all signs of anxiety.

How can we as parents help our children through this?

First, be compassionate. If you have ever felt nervous about something you can identify with what your child is feeling.  Even though our kids’ anxiety sometimes comes up in the most inconvenient ways (nausea, avoidance behavior, last minute crises), we need to take a step back and remember that parents are the protectors of children. We also, in a sense, represent the Lord to our kids.  We are their first mentors and disciplers. So, even if we are worried about getting to work late, having a mess on our hands, or embarrassment, we also need to consider the experience that our child is having in this moment. We must pray for wisdom: does this child need “tough love” right now to push through -- or a timeout and a listening ear?  Most likely they need our reassurance, but we should not dismiss their fears.  It can be a tricky balance.

Second, empower the child.  Anxiety is not alway as simple as “mind over matter,” but sometimes mental tools and strategies can be helpful. Encourage your child to do their best and focus on the positives.  Remind them that you will be here for them no matter what. If they are worried about their performance, walk them through what “doing your best” will look like.  For example, there is only one winner in a race, but the rest of the runners are still successful and accomplished if they have trained, practice, and persevered. They have overcome their own obstacles and perhaps beaten their own records. This is worth celebrating!  While you are giving your child this pep talk, check your own motives. Have you been pressuring your child to perform, compete, dominate?  If so, pray and surrender your child’s future to the Lord once again.

If you have techniques that help you when you are anxious, share them with your child.  Simple things like taking a deep breath, repeating a calming phrase or verse, or distracting yourself from obsessive thoughts can be helpful.  They may sound simple, but they are not necessarily things that a child would come up with on their own.  Practice them together until they can do them independently.

Third, talk to their teachers. Explain the strategies you are using, so that your teacher can reinforce them and possibly report back to you any progress or problems. This can create a positive cycle of improvement, or at least provide you with more information that you can use as you go to the next step.

If these changes in approach do not seem to bring any results, you might consider therapy. Child therapists, using play therapy or therapy animals, can get your child to reveal the troubling thoughts they haven’t mentioned to you.  Sometimes it is surprising, such as a bad dream they didn’t even want to revisit, or an experience that they didn’t want to relive. Once they speak about it, the therapist and parents can address the issue.  

Therapists can also help you identify when your child may need some further help such as medicine.  Some forms of anxiety are more deep-seated and beyond the realm of behavioral therapy.  Naturopaths might help you consider helpful modifications to your child’s diet, or ways your child get better sleep.

When you see signs of stress and anxiety in your child, do not ignore it, hoping it will go away.  Talk to other adults in their life to see what may be causing it, and be your child’s closest advocate. Having the support of family goes a long way toward healing.

 

For more helpful information see:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/renee-jain/9-things-every-parent-with-an-anxious-child-should-try_b_5651006.html

https://adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress

The Importance of Serving

Posted on Apr 26, 2017 11:30:00 AM by Laurel Robinson

Service hours. Volunteering. Giving back.  Whatever the label it is an important part of growing up into a wonderful human being.

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At Liberty Christian School, 8th graders recently invited and fed homeless men from the Helping Up Mission (HUM) in Baltimore. In February, the 8th graders also traveled to Costa Rica for a week long missions trip. As we think through what that was like for everyone involved, we can easily see the importance of service, whether it is providing food or clothing for those in need, picking up trash, helping to build a house or a playground, or going on a summer missions trip:

Helping others.  In doing some acts of service you may not feel as though you are filling a huge need but simply putting a “drop in the bucket.”  However, every little bit does help--and what would happen if we all declined to help because our individual contribution was not going to make a huge difference?

Inspiring others. The stories that we read in which a young person starts a campaign, reaches out, or gives back are often the most inspiring stories of all.  Sometimes grown-ups can get jaded, or too absorbed in their own responsibilities or troubles. Each young person doing good in the community may inspire several adults to get back into the spirit of giving, or at least regain their trust that kids are capable of kind and selfless acts.

Developing compassion. Many service projects start with a compassionate vision of a person or a group of people; however, some of us may go along because we have to or because others are doing it.  But once we actually show up, we may be stretched outside of our comfort zones; we will see the real needs that prompted the project and our hearts may be touched. We may be moved to greater ways of helping and find more rewards than we knew possible.

Developing humility.  Similarly, when you come face to face with a homeless person you will experience the fact that they are a person. You may realize that any of us could be homeless if only a couple of details in our circumstances were to change.  You will develop a greater awareness of your own neediness and possibly of ways in which your living differently could impact others.  Other forms of service can humble us simply due to the fact that we spent a day scrubbing dirty things instead of entertaining ourselves. However it is developed, humility is a wonderful quality.

Sharing the Gospel with others.  If you meet the physical or material need of a person it may touch their heart more than you know.  It may open up a “door” for you to talk about deeper needs or discuss the Gospel. In her book  Kisses from Katie, Katie Davis describes how she feeds, clothes, and cares for orphans in Uganda. They know the love of Jesus because they see the love that she has for them. In many cases this is a love that no one had shown them before.

Experiencing the power of God. Katie Davis writes, “People are people.  They all need food and water and medicine, but mostly they need love and truth and Jesus. I can do that. We can do that.  We can give people food, water, medicine, love, truth, and Jesus. ...We can’t do it in our own strength or out of our own resources, but as we follow God to wherever He is leading us, He makes the impossible happen.”

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In Matthew 25, Jesus paints us a picture:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. ...Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”

The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

When it comes to “giving back,” that is really what it’s all about. We love because He first loved us.  We give generously because we have received generous blessings from God.  It’s never too late to start!