Grandville Robodawgs are leading the way in educational robotics

robodawgfootball-2A Michigan school district has garnered national attention for being a leader in educational robotics.

The Grandville Robodawgs began designing, building and programming competitive robots as one high school robotics team in 1998.

Since then, the Robodawgs have expanded to 55 teams and more than 700 students in grades 2 through 12.

Doug Hepfer is a coach for the Grandville High School Robodawgs in Kent county.

He said it was nine years ago when the school district made the decision to expand the extracurricular STEM education options for students pre-high school.

“They said we want to expand these robotics and science programs in the after school arena. And so we began in robotics to put kids into elementary robotics programs. We offer a full range of programs that draw kids in and teach them interesting things about math and science from the time they’re in second grade. We don’t look at robotics as one team in one school. This is a part of our educational experience in Grandville where extracurricular STEM education actually is what this is about, it’s not about kids just playing with robots, it’s about teaching math and science skills to students from the time they’re in second grade all the way until they graduate.”

Hepfer said the national attention is really beneficial for the robotics students.

“It helps our kids as they get ready to go to college and colleges know who we are and they value the kids’ time in competitive robotics. We really have been very fortunate in that so many people have taken an interest in what we’re doing.”

Hepfer said every year the Robodawgs help start up robotics teams in other school districts.

He said in the last seven years they have helped launch more than 50 robotics teams across North America.