WICKER PARK — Students in a robotics club at a Wicker Park elementary school will show off their engineered creations — including Mr. Bumblebee and Wall-e — to proud parents and members of the public on Tuesday night.
Set for 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday at Sabin Dual Language Magnet school, 2216 W. Hirsch St. "Sabin Robotics Night" will include test runs of land robots, a chance to see student-engineered underwater robots move in a pool and a Robotics Tug-of-War Challenge, among other math and science activities.
Juan Madrigal, a fifth grade math teacher at the school of about 560 students, leads the club.
Madigal said Sabin's robotics club has 28 students in it, comprised of 13 girls and 15 boys in fifth through eighth grades.
Tuesday night will offer a chance to peek into "a visionary world where robots are not just a curiosity, but an amazing asset" and converse with young future engineers, Madrigal said.
Since becoming involved in the Gear Up Robotics Summer Academy, in 2012, Madrigal has taught five summer robotics programs and implemented Robotics Club at Sabin and Jose de Diego Elementary School, also in Wicker Park.
"I enjoy empowering my students to learn, create, be risk takers, be problem solvers, and engineer the most challenging robots," Madrigal said.
Jennifer Soto's son Izayah Cook participates in the robotics club.
"The children learn independence and to problem-solve as a team," Soto said in an email. "During any presentation, the students present to the public. If there is a malfunction with the robots, the children fix the problem themselves as a team."
Nehemiah Salvador Belfort, a fifth grader, said he has learned how to work with machines using simple tools like wrenches, screws, wires and axles.
Belfort said he wants to eventually create more complex robots.
"The robotics program helps me understand how mathematical numbers and equations help with torque speed in robots," Belfort said.
Madrigal said students are thinking big about how robots can be used in the future.
During a group conversation that the club was having about underwater robots, one student brought up an article he read that said by the year 2060 there will be more plastic garbage in the oceans than fish.
That comment prompted the group to work on a mission statement for creating a company that focuses on using underwater robots to clean the ocean.
"I was very proud of my students for the fact that they were making connections on how they can use what they were learning in underwater robotics to create future jobs that will require the understanding of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math [STEAM]," Madrigal said. "Knowing that my students are using what they read in an academic class and connecting it to how robotics can help the future of our planet makes me feel very proud."
Sabin students in the water with robots. [Courtesy of Juan Madrigal]
Members of the school's Robotics Club. [Courtesy of Juan Madrigal]
Students work on assembling a robot. [Courtesy of Juan Madrigal]