The WarriorBorgs Advance Robotics Education for Neurodiverse Students

Written by Sanjana Ryali, FCSN Youth Volunteer Instructor

The WarriorBorgs are a competitive robotics team based in Valley Christian High School in San Jose, California. Apart from the main task of robot design, the team also works to foster lasting change in their community and world by creating and inspiring young leaders in STEM. They recognize the disparities in STEM education and are dedicated to leveraging their platform to bridge the gaps around them.

Team members Sanjana, Rhea, and Govind are providing key robotics education to FCSN through their in-person LEGO Robotics Workshop, known as WarriorBuild. Every week, students build a new robot and their own custom program. The WarriorBorgs consulted with a special needs educator to specifically tailor their classes to the tactile learning style of many neurodiverse students. The students follow the hands-on instruction of the instructors, who help them with the more difficult pieces. Projects like a grabber arm and LEGO animals brought a smile to the students’ faces; adding sound effects like a race car or jingle bells was also a group favorite. The kids also all made their own personal modifications to their robots — one student made a “battle crocodile,” while another made a whole LEGO house and family, complete with a garden bed.

The instructors helped students with more difficult pieces and adding personal touches to their robots.

Over the classes’ 6-week course, the WarriorBorgs saw much progress in the students’ creative design skills. Although the kids struggled at first to do things that were not laid out in the instructions, the team implemented ways to ease the learning challenges. For example, they switched their building material to blocks after discovering that the students had difficulties with using beams. To encourage creativity, the team also provided different colored blocks and special parts like characters and flowers for decoration. By the end of the workshop, students were able to make custom modifications to their robots and design programs all by themselves. In addition, despite initial shyness, each child came out of their shell, even displaying their robots in a group show-and-tell.

The instructors found the experience to be extremely rewarding. Although Sanjana, Rhea, and Govind were extremely nervous during their first few weeks as teachers, they eventually developed close connections with the kids and looked forward to seeing their growth every week. They grew familiar with the learning styles of each student and even prepared different fun schematics for each of them based on their preferences and level. They hope to continue this workshop next year with even more students, spreading the love of robotics through community efforts with FCSN.

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