Robots and race cars: Juniper Systems engineers will revive Lego robotics club at elementary

Lego robotics club

With the help of Juniper Systems engineers and technology, students at Sunrise Elementary School in Smithfield, Utah will – once again – be able to make their Lego creations come to life.

This fall, three Juniper Systems manufacturing support engineers will bring back the popular Sunrise Elementary School Lego robotics club where students used Legos, the popular interlocking plastic toys, to build race cars and fighting robots programmed with the help of the Mesa 2 Rugged Tablet.

“They think they’re playing, but they’re actually learning,” said Jordan Allen, a process improvement engineer at Juniper Systems. “It was fun to watch the kids as they realized they could control the Legos with their programs.”

Juniper Systems manufacturing engineers Allen, Natalie Harper, and Doug Jensen started the Lego robotics club in February after Allen noticed his son’s elementary needed more after-school programs. The three met with students every Thursday after school to teach kids the logical trial-and-error processes behind programming that eventually made their Lego cars and robots race and fight.

“I wanted to give the students an option where they could learn engineering skills in a fun environment,” Allen said. “Juniper stepped up and helped with the needed funding to purchase the Lego robotics kits – without its funding we wouldn’t have started the club.”

Juniper Systems donated around $1,000 in Lego kits and provided eight Mesa 2 Rugged Tablets which outperformed the school’s computers and provided needed durability for the hands-on elementary program.

“If a Mesa 2 can survive 6- to 12-year-old kids, it can survive anything,” Jensen said.

Lego robotics club

Lego robotics club

Allen said the Lego robotics club filled an important void in an era eager to produce STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and math, students. Harper provided an especially important role, Allen added.

In 2015, women filled nearly half of all U.S. jobs, but only 24 percent of STEM jobs, according to a study by the U.S. Commerce Department. Harper helped to mentor the girls in the club.

“Harper really helped the girls in the club who, by the way, were kicking butt and taking names,” Allen said.

Allen added one of the reasons the three engineers will be back this fall providing dozens of volunteer hours to 32 – sometimes screaming – elementary school kids is because of the culture at Juniper Systems. Ron Campbell, the company’s founder, started Juniper Systems with service to the local community in mind. One of Juniper Systems’ maxims, or values, states, “We encourage self-improvement through continuing education, vigorous physical training, spiritual edification, and social interaction.”

“The company bolsters its mission as it continues investing in the community,” Allen said.

The club swelled in size the past fall and was capped at 32 students, ranging from 1st to 6th grade.

“The kids thought it was all really cool; you could see the excitement on their faces when it all worked,” Jensen said.

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