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North Area Community School Wins Robotics Competition Honors

Team Wins 1st Place in Robot Dance Category

Terry Ahrens, Fred Gordon, and Harry Cheng

North Area Community School student Fred Gordon, center, with Robotics Club Advisor Terry Ahrens and ​​UC Davis Professor Harry Cheng.

A team of robotics students from North Area Community School, a Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) program, walked away with a top prize after impressing judges with the troupe of dancing robots they programmed.

North Area students competed May 5th in the 2nd Annual UC Davis C-STEM Day, held on the UC Davis campus. The event was organized by the UC Davis K-14 Outreach Center for Computing and STEM Education and the College of Engineering, with help from the UC Davis Computing and Robotics Outreach Club.

The Outreach Center aims to improve Computing, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (C-STEM) education in grades K-14. "Our goal is to increase participation of students who are typically underrepresented in computing and to develop their computer-aided problem-solving skills by tackling real-world STEM problems," said Center Director Harry Cheng. "I am very pleased with the accomplishments of Terry and his students from the North Area Community School."

The North Area Community School team won first place in the Robot Dance competition, receiving a cash prize of $80 and a trophy. The competition required students to create a robot dance (YouTube video). Students submitted their programming code for the dance, along with the video.

In addition, student team leader, 8th grader Fred Gordon, received the Student Achievement Award, the highest honor available for middle school students. Other team members included Jeremy Agnew, Anthony Titman, and Jonathan Neal.

North Area Community School teacher Terry Ahrens was also recognized as one of four area C-STEM Teachers of the Year. The honor recognizes C-STEM teachers for their exceptional contributions in teaching computing, integrating computing into STEM subjects, and inspiring students to pursue post-secondary study and careers in C-STEM fields.

The North Area Robotics Club is supported by the UC Davis C-STEM program, created by Professor Harry Cheng, Ph.D. The program provided six modular robots, or "mobots," designed by Professor Cheng and his department, to assist in establishing the club. Professor Cheng and his graduate assistants have also provided many hours of technical support to help solve hardware and software issues.

Modular robot