Students building robots, writing code in district STEM programs

In the sixth grade, Clifton Middle School student DK Lacy built a robotic hand in his computer science class. In the seventh grade, he helped his classmates build a life-size robot. Three months into his eighth-grade year, he’s already worked on a class project to create a 3-D printer by disassembling three different computers. But he says his greatest creation is yet to come.

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“I love to build things, and I want to make things one day that not many people have made – a car that runs on an alternative resource like dirt or water or a smartphone for the blind to help my dad,” said DK, a student in Clifton’s magnet program for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). STEM is one of several magnet program areas to choose from on HISD’s new magnet application for the next school year.

The STEM program at Clifton is helping students hone their technology skills by introducing them to engineering, computer science, and coding through robotics, video game and mobile app design, storytelling, electronic prototyping, and e-textiles. Later this month, many of the students will compete in the FIRST Lego League robotics tournament, where they will build and program robots to complete a series of missions based on concepts learned in engineering, science, and math classes.

Clifton is one of more than 30 STEM magnet schools in HISD. Students can apply to attend one through the district’s 2015-2016 magnet application until Dec. 19, the deadline for guaranteed first-round consideration.