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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, August 12, 2022
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Learning to Love Science, Technology and Math

Twenty-one St. Croix middle school, junior high and high school students showed their skills in robotics and computer programming at the University of the Virgin Island’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics close out program Wednesday.

"We hope a seed has been planted in each one of you with the excitement of what higher education can be like," said Nereida Washington, director of operations for UVI St. Croix, before the students showed their work.

For the past two weeks, the students had two three-hour classes a day, with lunch at the UVI cafeteria, splitting their time between graphics programming and robotics. The students showed the fruits of the work they’ve done so far over their summer break to an auditorium filled with parents, teachers and fellow students. They made miniature robot models do a series of tasks and showed computer generated graphics they designed and programmed with the NetLOGO graphics modeling package.

First the budding engineers gave a series of robotics demonstrations. Each team of two or three students put together small, shoebox-sized modular robots, with wheels, electric motors, light, sound, touch and proximity sensors. One after another, the students came up and put the robots through their paces, making them run through a series of preprogrammed maneuvers; follow a line on a board using a light sensor; drive up to an object but stop before touching it, and other practical tests of control over the diminutive high tech machines.

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Next the teams showed their graphics and animation skills. Armed with a large projection computer screen, each pair of students demonstrated their particular graphic sequence and explained how they went about programming them. One had a swimming school of fish with rising bubbles and a gurgling sound track. Another had a highway with cars, ambulances and pedestrians moving about.

"I thought engineering was easy, but I know now it’s a lot of work,” said Ronald Schjang III, an upcoming eighth-grader at Elena Christian Jr. High. “And I think robots are cool now."

Ajani Gordon, an upcoming eighth-grader at John H. Woodson Jr. High and Schjang’s teammate, said,
"I think by experiencing all this, you find out it is really interesting."

The two participated in a different science programs last summer, but their mothers’ work together and signed them each up, and having enjoyed that, both signed up for the STEM program, Schjang said.

Funding of the program was made possible by retired attorney Harvey Clapp III, who was on hand for the ceremony, and by UVI’s College Access Challenge Grant with continued support from the St. Croix Foundation.

"The key is to learn to love learning," Clapp said. "You are learning in a field that is going to be in tremendous demand. Most jobs that are going to pay decently in the future are going to involve math and science, and it is vital that you have this type of knowledge," he said.

The St. Croix Foundation has supported the STEM program since its inception and its chief operating officer, Deanna James, spoke a few words about the value of science and technology.

This year’s STEM students included Schjang, Gordon, Areannah Agathe, N’Bari Alexander, Laurie Armstrong, Rosean Christopher, Morgan Coles, Ammiel Francis, Thalia Guadalupe, Yarilynn Guadalupe, Aaron Harris, Iyandla Isles, Daniel Joseph, Roosevelt Joseph, LeeAnn Knight, Alisandro Nero, Othnia Prime, Bria James, Rahul Nandwani, Hewlette Warner and Michael Carino.

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Twenty-one St. Croix middle school, junior high and high school students showed their skills in robotics and computer programming at the University of the Virgin Island’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics close out program Wednesday.

"We hope a seed has been planted in each one of you with the excitement of what higher education can be like," said Nereida Washington, director of operations for UVI St. Croix, before the students showed their work.

For the past two weeks, the students had two three-hour classes a day, with lunch at the UVI cafeteria, splitting their time between graphics programming and robotics. The students showed the fruits of the work they’ve done so far over their summer break to an auditorium filled with parents, teachers and fellow students. They made miniature robot models do a series of tasks and showed computer generated graphics they designed and programmed with the NetLOGO graphics modeling package.

First the budding engineers gave a series of robotics demonstrations. Each team of two or three students put together small, shoebox-sized modular robots, with wheels, electric motors, light, sound, touch and proximity sensors. One after another, the students came up and put the robots through their paces, making them run through a series of preprogrammed maneuvers; follow a line on a board using a light sensor; drive up to an object but stop before touching it, and other practical tests of control over the diminutive high tech machines.

Next the teams showed their graphics and animation skills. Armed with a large projection computer screen, each pair of students demonstrated their particular graphic sequence and explained how they went about programming them. One had a swimming school of fish with rising bubbles and a gurgling sound track. Another had a highway with cars, ambulances and pedestrians moving about.

"I thought engineering was easy, but I know now it's a lot of work,” said Ronald Schjang III, an upcoming eighth-grader at Elena Christian Jr. High. “And I think robots are cool now."

Ajani Gordon, an upcoming eighth-grader at John H. Woodson Jr. High and Schjang's teammate, said,
"I think by experiencing all this, you find out it is really interesting."

The two participated in a different science programs last summer, but their mothers' work together and signed them each up, and having enjoyed that, both signed up for the STEM program, Schjang said.

Funding of the program was made possible by retired attorney Harvey Clapp III, who was on hand for the ceremony, and by UVI’s College Access Challenge Grant with continued support from the St. Croix Foundation.

"The key is to learn to love learning," Clapp said. "You are learning in a field that is going to be in tremendous demand. Most jobs that are going to pay decently in the future are going to involve math and science, and it is vital that you have this type of knowledge," he said.

The St. Croix Foundation has supported the STEM program since its inception and its chief operating officer, Deanna James, spoke a few words about the value of science and technology.

This year's STEM students included Schjang, Gordon, Areannah Agathe, N'Bari Alexander, Laurie Armstrong, Rosean Christopher, Morgan Coles, Ammiel Francis, Thalia Guadalupe, Yarilynn Guadalupe, Aaron Harris, Iyandla Isles, Daniel Joseph, Roosevelt Joseph, LeeAnn Knight, Alisandro Nero, Othnia Prime, Bria James, Rahul Nandwani, Hewlette Warner and Michael Carino.