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These SC robotics students treat coding as second, third languages

The students use coding to construct robots for an obstacle course.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Dreher High School hosted several students from across the state for the start of the robotics competition season. The event allowed students to learn new skills for approaching this season.

Traditionally students are required to learn languages like French or Spanish, but many don't think of coding as another on that list. 

Carl Fehr and Emily Daniels are 10th-grade students representing a charter school in Charleston. They know all about learning that third language.

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“Teamwork, cooperation," Fehr said. 

"Just basic mechanics. It also teaches you a different way of thinking," Daniels added.

Linda Stewart helped organize the First Tech Challenge POWER PLAY Season presented by Raytheon Technology.  She said these students put the coding where their mouths are. 

"Each year there’s a challenge that comes out, it's themed. This year our theme is 'energized,'"  Stewart said. "So, all of the program's challenges are related to energy.”

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With this challenge, students are expected to construct and code a robot that can complete an intricate obstacle course.

“We know that we want something smaller just because this is a lot of maneuvering in a lot of tight spaces that you have to maneuver through," 11th-grade contestant Jenna Henry said while examining the course.

On the other side of the course, Carl said, the key to success is the function of the robot.

“We’re thinking something like an elevator to sort of lift up the cones," Fehr said.

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Payton Barrett said the skills she acquires here will set up her future career.

"Of course, I want to do engineering, and also doing robotics with First is going to help me get scholarships and money to be able to go to an engineering college, stem college, to achieve my career goal," Barrett said.

Linda Stewart said this program introduces students to STEM careers. The students will take the season to configure the robots and later compete in February for a prize.

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