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Lompoc Record

PROGRAM INSPIRES KIDS TO PARTICIPATE IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING9-23-2013 12-40-00 PMArnold Munoz, left, Nathan Basulto, center, and other Blue team members celebrate their victory Tuesday in the United Boys & Girls Club “LEGO Robotics Showcase” in Lompoc.

August 15, 2013 1:00 am  •  Staff report

A group of Lompoc students combined robotics with the ancient sport of sumo wrestling in a “LEGO Robotics Showcase” on Tuesday afternoon at the United Boys & Girls Club’s Lompoc Clubhouse.

The students from Lompoc Valley Middle, Clarence Ruth Elementary, and Hapgood Elementary schools, who ranged from third- through eighth-graders, had each participated in an eight-week robotics program sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club. They attended classes five days per week, taught by Todd Gee, and learned about science and engineering while building several robots.

Tuesday’s showcase was the culmination of the program. At that event, the students grouped into teams and controlled a pair of robots in a sumo-style competition in which they tried to push the other out of the ring.

Among the students who participated in the program were Nathan Basulto, Atreyu Seay, Charlie Soukup, Chloe Gabriana, Jacob Perez, Raymond Ochoa, and brothers Diego and Marco Nuñez.

“This (robotics) program provides certain educational opportunities for youth who might not normally be exposed to such a curriculum,” said Dena Kern, the unit director of the Lompoc Clubhouse. “That’s what we do here at the United Boys & Girls Clubs: Provide endless opportunities.”

Kern said that she would like to see the program continue to grow and ideally become a feeder program for the space industry.

“This program provides important career preparation,” she said. “There is a current countrywide need for young people to be interested in and participate in math and science. UBGC programs serve as a vehicle for youth to be able to teach and inspire their peers to participate in science and engineering and in turn enable future generations to be more marketable in these respective fields.”

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