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Competing To Solve A Global Issue

Posted Dec 15, 2015

Football and the physicality that goes along with it may be the Eagles’ main priority, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy exercising their brains by learning about science and technology.

On Monday, December 14, wide receiver Jonathan Krause and cornerback JaCorey Shepherd were given a lesson on robotics from Steppingstone Scholars’ students, who designed and programmed a number of robots that will be used to compete in the FIRST LEGO League Challenge next month.

This year, nearly a quarter of a million kids between the ages of 9 and 16 are competing in the TRASH TREK Challenge by identifying an issue with the way trash is made or handled in today’s society. The students from Tanner G. Duckrey and Paul Lawrence Dunbar elementary schools created robots to pick up and move boxes, which represent piles of trash.

The kids were eager to show and teach the players as much as they could about the technology they had spent extensive time learning about in their small teams. Much like football, the students quickly discovered that working together allowed them to achieve a much better result than working on their own.

“There’s no I in team and with that being said, if you want to achieve a goal, you have to have some type of connection with somebody else in order to achieve that goal,” Krause said. “With them doing the robotics, I think they told me it was two weeks to build it. It would probably be what, a month, if you’re trying to do it by yourself. I think it’s pretty neat that they’ve got a whole team working on it.”

With a colorful map spread across the floor, everyone gathered around and watched the robots the students created come to life. At the press of a button, they moved ahead and did exactly what the students had programmed them to accomplish.

“It’s just really interesting how they program the robot to pretty much go up, get the block, turn around, drop it off where they want it to be dropped off,” Krause said.

“They’re in the coding right now. When I was back at college, I took a few computer science classes and it just kind of triggered a memory of back when I was in those classes coding. It’s really cool that you can code a program and then have it do what you want it to do.”

Eagles Care partner Steppingstone Scholars is committed to helping students achieve academic success through its STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) program, which is why the kids from Duckrey and Dunbar are competing in the FIRST LEGO League Challenge.

Krause was quick to praise the kids for their accomplishments thus far and also shared his own thoughts on the importance of education. A product of Vanderbilt University, academics were very important to him during his college career.

“In order to play football and get to the high school level, you’ve got to take care of your grades,” Krause said. “Education is important. That’s the main thing colleges look at, especially when recruiting. You work hard at your education and football will take care of itself. The main thing is education.

“Offers will start coming in based upon your grades and how your play is and everything. You could go to school on a free scholarship and once you get to school, that’s four years paid for. You get your college education, make your parents proud and make yourself proud. Once you get to college, everything else will fall into place and you can worry about the football part. But for them, the main part I feel right now that’s important is the education part.”

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