It was love at first gear. The adrenaline that coursed through my veins as I problem-solved and tinkered away at the robot (while buzzers and names were heard across the gymnasium) was something that I wanted to keep experiencing. However, I would have not gotten to this point if it were not for the education I received at Saint Mary’s Hall, and the team members who have helped build our robot. Going through high school, I (and many others) have often pondered when we would apply the knowledge we learned in class to the world outside the classroom. Then, my pondering stopped when I realized how robotics pulls in all aspects from the left to the right brain. I used to think that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) or STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) were just popular phrases limited to a particular field of study. STEM/STEAM is an overall philosophy that uses all aspects of learning.
The curriculum at Saint Mary’s Hall prepares you well to take on every challenge thrown your way, not just tech-related fields. The STEM/STEAM concept ties it all together. It improves your analytical abilities, improves your professional presentation skills, and gives you a competitive fire. Analytically, you are prepared to deal with problem-solving because teachers have cultivated this way of thinking; whether this was through physics in figuring out a mechanics problem or in history when you need to sort through events and craft your own opinion. Professionally, you are prepared to present and craft a proposal and argument to the speech and debate judges, because the English that you are taught becomes second nature when making an elevator-pitch of why using a string loaded arm is appropriate. Competitively, you are prepared to understand the importance of keeping a cool temperament, while also being able to work with other schools in order to win the game.
Robotics pushes and challenges me, which is why I chose to join the SMH Robotics Club. At a robotics competition, everything I have learned thus far is pulled together into a cohesive piece, and this is what I find so fascinating about something that, at first glance, would only seem to pull in STEM/STEAM. There are so many components that complement engineering and math, like speech and design, that create a successful foundation. To me, having a robotics club and competing against other schools has been a pivotal moment in my high school career. I will look back on the hours I have dedicated to robotics with a fond memory. Participating in STEAM/STEM curriculum is the propellant that will set me up for a successful career in college and beyond.
My advice to students is to incorporate it. Take a robotics class, an extra science class, or a coding course. Our world is rapidly becoming more and more digital and having the knowledge of knowing how to program is an invaluable asset.
About Felicia: Felicia Early is a senior at Saint Mary's Hall and has been a part of the SMH family since 2016. Heavily involved with the SMH Robotics Club, she has competed in FIRST Tech Challenge and has been the leader of the team these past two years. She has played varsity basketball for the past three years. The highlight of Felicia’s work in robotics was when she presented the team’s robot to the American Heritage Girls, inspiring young women to explore STEM/STEAM.