Cal Poly Pomona College of Engineering hosted the annual fourth “R” robotic challenge on April 27th. Over 120 students from various elementary and middle schools participated in the event.
Robotics is rapidly becoming the fourth “R” of learning “reading, writing and arithmatic,” ingredients that our modern-day students must understand to succeed in a technology-driven world. The Fourth “R” program is the culmination of an extensive, six-year collaboration among engineering faculty, undergraduates, and K-12 teachers in robotics-based education to engage and inspire young learners. This is an in-class program in which engineering faculty and undergraduate engineering students visit each school. During their weekly visit, faculty members introduce topics through the Socratic Method, helping students learn through a "guided discovery" process.
According to Dr. Hohmann, Dean of College of Engineering, “Robotics is an engaging way of encouraging young people to study and enjoy the STEM disciplines - or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. This may help fill our nation’s need for more Scientists, Technicians, Engineers and Mathematicians in our country’s workforce.” After watching the excitement of boys and girls who were thrilled to build robots, anyone at the event would believe this is a great possibility.
What is even more encouraging is the support this event received from local school district administrators, city officials and politicians. The Superintendent of Pomona Unified School District Dr, Richard Martinez and Pomona City Mayor Elliott Rothman attended the event. State Senator, Alex Padilla, a Democrat representing Senate District 20 sent his field representatives to one of the participating schools to extend his support. Assemblyman Curt Hagman, a Republican representing the 60th District, gave certificates to all participants.
The fourth “R” robotic challenge is a very unique program that can serve as national model. It not only inspires children to choose a career in engineering and technology by providing engaging learning experiences, but also engages politicians and school administrators. Perhaps such collaborations can encourage politicians to come together at a national level to resolve problems facing the nation.