California State University, Northridge Colleges of Engineering and Computer Science and Education will host the fourth-annual Rally in the Valley event on Saturday, May 6th in CSUN's Matadome. The event organizers, Professor Susan Belgrad from the Michael D. Eisner College of Education and Dr. Li Liu, College of Engineering and Computer Science and Education are working with professors in both colleges to offer an additional STEM Student Showcase that engages the elementary school students not directly engaged in robotics to show their research into the many ways that technology and engineering add value, innovation and invention to our daily lives.
The robotics coopertitions featured at the Rally this year will engage over 400 elementary school students from the San Fernando Valley and beyond in several STEM-related projects. The events include student engineered and programmed LEGO Mindstorm EV3 robots that will compete in Follow- the-Line, Obstacle Course, NASA Space Challenge, TEAM Talk and the popular SUMO challenge.
Co-sponsored by LAUSD, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and funded by PP&G Aerospace Learning and Development and the NASA-EPDC grant, the educators whose school teams will participate have worked tirelessly to help their young STEM learners design, build and program their bots. The students have worked to acquire programming abilities as they will not know the Obstacle Course Challenge until they arrive on the day of competition. Dr. Susan Belgrad offers high praise to the originator of the RIV, Dr. Jawa, a professor of engineering at Cal Poly Pomona who created the REAL robotics challenge for elementary schools within the university's service area. Educators at Stanley Mosk Elementary deployed their student teams at this competition and left with trophies the first two years they competed. With CSUN's support they held their first school-wide event in 2015 that convinced CSUN to bring the event to its campus for deployment across CSUN's service area. Stanley Mosk was recognized by LEGO Education last year as one of only two LEGO Education Model schools and funded teacher Oscar Rios to lead training. David Garringer, Assistant Principal has been an avid and indispensable organizer and supporter of provider during the year-round planning and implementing of the RIV event.
"The amount of teacher engagement and contribution of after-school and vacation time that is devoted to this event from the early fall planning to the conduct of the event is inspiring. These teachers and the principals (and Parent Teacher Associations) that support them, believe in their young learners. They understand that they are offering their students the keys to success in their academic and career pursuits in STEM. I am especially encouraged that they understand my exhortation to assure gender equity on the teams they recruit within the many Title I schools that participate. The 2017 audience will see many girls working toward STEM success on their co-ed teams. "This is amplified with the participation of undergraduate and graduate club members of CSUN SWE (Society of Women Engineers) and CSUN Matabots.
Belgrad looks forward to the Rally in the Valley being held in the Matadome as it will bring the excitement and PA system of an arena to the event. Opening speakers for the program are expected to be Dean Michael Spagna, CSUN, Superintendent Vivian Ekchian, LAUSD, Senior NASA JPL Education Specialist Dr. Ota Lutz, JPL and Council Member Bob Blumenfield Los Angeles City Council.
To date over 14 schools are registered with almost 400 girls and boys to participate in the event including: Stanley Mosk, Castle Bay Lane, Pacoima Charter, Haskell STEAM Magnet, Santa Monica Boulevard Charter, Victory Blvd, Haddon STEAM Academy, Hart St, Encino Elementary, Canoga Park Elementary, Plummer Elementary, St. Genevieve, and AGBU.
Left: Students from 2016 RV cheer for each other's teams, hoping to win the"coop-ertitions" and receive awards at the event held last year in CSUN's Redwood Hall.
Right: After the cooopertitions, the student teams wait for the judges' decision on the winning teams.
Left: Students participated in last year's Rally in the Valley.
Right: Students must gather around the obstacle course to analyze how to program their LEGO Mindstorm robots before the competition begins.