Triton teacher engineers ‘Snowbotics’ lesson
Maeve O'Hara enjoys some success Saturday working with a component on a circuit board. Triton College hosted a class for younger students to gain hands-on experience building robotic models. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 14, 2013 6:13AM
ELMWOOD PARK — At Triton College, one teacher is trying to spread her love for engineering and technology by letting youth get hands-on experience.
Antigone Sharris, coordinator for Engineering Technology at the college, hosted an event Saturday called “Snowbotics.”
The fundraiser had a dual purpose.
First, to help young people get an idea of what science, technology, engineering and math is all about in a fun hands-on environment.
Second, to help fund Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy’s Monty Pythons Robotics Team. Participants created their own soldering electronics projects in Triton’s fabrication laboratory. They were helped by instructors and students who are part of the college’s Engineering Technology program as well as students from the Robotics Team.
Sharris said youth come from near and far to participate in the Snowbotics event. It actually has nothing to do with snow; the name comes from the time of year.
“We charge $30 per youth to participate in the program,” she said. “The program we do for the kids is that they build their own electromechanical device within three hours.”
The $30 fee is tax deductible and each participant is given a kit to assemble the device. They can take it home, too.
“We keep it simple,” she said. “We don’t make it a hard project, and it is pretty straightforward. It’s intended to be fun and the parents can be involved.”
Sharris said she organizes events like this every year with one thing in mind: getting young people excited about engineering as a career.
“When I went to Lane Tech High School everyone was required to take shop,” she said. “I actually enjoyed it. As a senior I worked in a company that was a women-owned business.”
She said that shop class, where she used her hands to build and repair things, motivated her to study engineering. But now classes like that don’t exist.
“The schools are not offering this kind of activity in their curriculum,” she said.
Students “are not getting exposure to this at all,” she said. “Parents are looking for educational interactive programs for their youth.”
So for several years she has been trying to fill the gap.
Parents appreciate it.
“These parents are trying to help their kids get a leg up,” she said. “I don’t want to make it cost inhibitive. I’m trying to make this cost effective and engaging.”