After just starting to build a robot, the students in sixth period robotics class came together to continue their project under the guidance of Mr. Hirsch. Teaching computer science, AP Computer Science, and robotics, Mr. Hirsch wants to “encourage all students at Van Nuys High School to take advantage of the opportunities and join our computer science courses and robotics.”
In the robotics class, the group consists of a captain, planner, builder, and recorder—all whose aim is to collaborate to create a robot that would be able to pick up a ball three feet away. The students use a system called LEGO Mindstorms NXT to program their robots with instructions. The task of picking up the ball is more than meets the eye. The robot must be programmed to rotate its motors at a certain speed, trigger its ultrasonic sensor at the approach of the ball, and open its claw to collect the ball among many other steps. The whole process fosters social interaction, intellectual ideas, and enthusiasm, all of which constitute a rewarding and enjoyable classroom experience.
“The most fun thing is to see a robot do its objective correctly,” said Alexander Walters, a freshman in the Math and Science Magnet.
Likewise in Mr. Hirsch’s robotics class, the students in his computer science and AP Computer Science classes are challenged and excited by the curriculum and activities. In particularly the AP Computer Science class, the students are learning material at a college level: object-oriented programming language, Java.
Mr. Hirsch welcomes students of all grades to participate in his classes. He explains that learning about computers, programming, or robotics is essential in the modern age because it “expands analytical thought processes and provides a level of thinking used in every field or major.” Mr. Hirsch’s classes are for students who are piqued by any aspect of technology or the thought of challenges. As the dawn of the STEM era in Van Nuys High School commences, the future of the technology program at VNHS looks hopeful.
— Keshan Huang