Zero Robotics invited FPMS to participate, HCEF supporting the program

By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News

The Zero Robotics Middle School Program has come to Texas for the first time and Four Points Middle School was one of a few schools invited to participate.

“Our Zero Robotics summer program is going very well. The kids really enjoy it and we did have the best score for the first round of competition,” said Gloria Lam-Parker, volunteer coordinator and Hill Country Education Foundation board member. HCEF is supporting the program.

“Only five teams were selected out of hundreds of applicants in Texas. We are very fortunate to be selected along with Kealing MS in Austin,” Lam-Parker said.20140716_122148

Zero Robotics is a five-week STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum that introduces students to computer programming, robotics, and space engineering, and provides hands-on experience programming.

Zero Robotics is a programming competition where the robots are SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites) inside the International Space Station. The competition starts online where teams program the SPHERES to solve a challenge. After several phases of virtual competition in a simulation environment that mimics the real SPHERES, finalists are selected to compete in a live championship aboard the ISS. An astronaut will conduct the championship competition in microgravity with a live broadcast.

“In mid-August, our team will go to Houston Space Center and an astronaut will use the code to conduct the competition on the ISS then broadcast the competition live,” Lam-Parker said.

Only nine states are invited to participate in Zero Robotics which was developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology with support from NASA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space. This is the first year Texas was invited and Texas A&M University is the local school coordinator/sponsor. The FPMS team is mentored by both M.I.T and Texas A&M students.

Zero Robotics builds critical engineering skills, including problem solving, the design thought process, operations training, and teamwork. It connects students with prominent scientists and encourages them to pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and/or math.