The Wyld Stallyns Robotics Team Leaving a Mark in Finland
This past summer, American Heritage robotics team 5472 The Wyld Stallyns started a sustainable summer robotics program in Karvia, Finland. This effort was spearheaded by two members of the team: Aada Caceres and Kalle Caceres. The objective of this initiative is to introduce long-lasting robotics programs to the region by training mentors and having them lead year-round robotics programs. Working alongside Mr. Taiowa Donovan, Director of the Robotics Program, in the Honors Robotics class, Kalle Caceres modified the class curriculum to extend this robotics experience to many eager students in Finland.
The process began in November of 2021 when Aada and Kalle reached out to the municipal government of Karvia, Finland, to request funding for the initiative. They worked with the school board, the Finnish Association of Robotics and Science Education, the Satakunta College of Applied Sciences, FIRST Lego League (FLL) Finland, Tevela Education Supplies, and others. Additional funding was provided by a variety of local, national, and inter-European sources. Leading up to the camp, the students met with the Karvia United School administration and municipal authorities both in person and virtually to finalize the project with guidance from Mr. Donovan and members of Stallion Robotics Team 5472.
In mid-June, the camps, open to students ages 10-14, began with an introduction to FIRST Lego League and FIRST Tech Challenge robots. Throughout the camp, students learned how to design, build, and program robots. They learned 3-D modeling through CAD software and applied their learning in activities such as 3-D printing. The program was featured in local newspapers as well as on the social media of local government and youth organizations. The camp ended with the opportunity for students to present their robots at a local fair. This fair was not only open to the city of Karvia but also to neighboring cities across the region of Satakunta, sparking interest in the program across the region.
“Our desire to share the love of robotics and STEM with the greater community outside of American Heritage Schools reached a little further with the Karvia, Finland initiative. Through the dedication of Kalle and Aada Caceres we will be able to inspire many others with this program for years to come” said Mr. Donovan, Director of Robotics Program at American Heritage Schools, Palm Beach Campus.
The Karvia robotics club has plans to participate in Finnish FLL training events to continue developing the students’ robotics skills. This winter, another two-day camp will be hosted for local mentors and youth to provide additional year-round support. While The Wyld Stallyns 5472 will continue to mentor and assist the club, the long-term plan is for the program to become sustainable and operate independently, as well as spread throughout the region.
What participants said about the robotics camp initiative:
“It is really nice that the kids get to experiment hands-on, which is a more efficient way of learning, and robotics will help with our goals to increase interdisciplinary approach in our curriculum. Creativity, building, programming, mathematics, English language, teamwork, the kids are learning lots of skills with robotics.” - Marjo Mäki-Kantti, Vice Principal of Karvia United School.
“This is the best activity I have ever participated in. I don’t want this camp to end ever. I would move in here if I could.” - Valtteri 10, camp participant.
“The best thing about FTC robots is that the possibilities are endless. You can code it however you want and based on what you know, and if you don’t know something, Kalle will help.” Jenna 10, when she was interviewed by the regional press.
“I am astonished by how eager my kids are to go to camp each morning. We just can't believe it is possible for kids to do something so sophisticated here in the rural areas” - Piia Alatalo, mother of two robotics camp participants.
“We have experimented with different hobbies with my son, but robotics is finally one that makes him tick. I have never seen him this excited. That is why I want to help out and get more involved” - Henri Tuuri, participant-in-training as a local robotics mentor.