RHP Seniors Lead STEM Initiative at Local Elementary School
RHP seniors Rafi Bernal and Chris Kitchen have been prominent leaders in the school’s robotics programs for seven years, starting with Lego Robotics in middle school and moving through FIRST Tech Challenge and then FIRST Robotics Challenge programs during high school. This year they took their technical and engineering knowledge and expertise on the road.
After recognizing a lack of STEM education at nearby underserved schools, the two boys took the initiative to launch their own non-profit organization, First GEAR Robotics, a program which specializes in teaching hands-on robotics courses to local elementary schools.
Over the course of five weeks this spring, First GEAR Robotics launched its robotics program at Normont Elementary in Los Angeles. They visited the school twice a week to instruct the students on how to build and program their own robots. The young students worked together as a team to prepare their robots for a friendly competition to finish off the course, and at the end of the program, First GEAR donated a game table, two laptops and two EV3 Lego Robotics kits to the school so they can continue the program and compete in next year’s First Lego League competition.
Rafi Bernal says he was inspired by participating in the robotics program at RHP, and wanted to share the knowledge and skills he gained with young students in his community and make an impact by inspiring them to pursue STEM-related fields themselves. Rafi adds, “Watching students become inspired and finding a passion for robotics is a humbling experience. Being introduced to a robotics program starting in the sixth grade has helped me value and appreciate how vital value of STEM education.”
Both Rafi and Chris have expressed the desire to pass First GEAR along to younger students at RHP, so that the program can continue to play an integral part in serving the community. They both add that their dedication to community service will continue as they attend college next fall, Rafi at UC Riverside and Chris at Minnesota’s Carleton College.