Cheney Free Press -


Staff Reporter 

Medical Lake students construct custom machines

Students use programming and engineering in robotics lab


Al Stover

Sebastian Cochran makes some adjustments to his vehicle, nicknamed "The Spider," as STEM Elementary coach Marci Dayton watches.

Robots were the theme for the March 22 STEM Lab at Hallett Elementary.

Students and their parents assembled small machines from Lego Mindstorm NXT kits.

Once they were finished constructing their robots, students went to the computer lab and programed different noises and commands into their machines.

STEM elementary coach Marci Dayton said this robotics lab was an extension of activities she was doing in the STEM after-school program , as well as the lab she held in the fall.

Dayton encouraged students to deviate from the manuals and make their own variations to their robots. Student Sebastian Cochran made a custom vehicle, which he named "The Spider." He added motion sensors to stop the machine when it touched an object. Another student modified his robot to move when he clapped his hands.

Toward the end of the lab, some of the students participated in a time trial where their robots had to move a ball down a track.

Student Calvin Henry installed an arm on his machine that hit the ball after he pressed a button.

Dayton said the lab allows children to have more of a hands-on approach in their learning, rather than just receiving instructions.

"With Legos you can reach every age," Dayton said. "I even had adults competing with each other."

Dayton also said the lab provides a challenge for the students.

"You can see people solve their own problems," Dayton said. "They may need help on a solution, but that is after they have already tried a couple of things."

Al Stover can be reached at


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