My name is Willem Scholten, but more commonly referred to around my two daughters school as the ‘Lego guy’ or the Robot Geek. Most school days I can be found hanging out some where in the Coe Elementary school or our small machine shop, preparing and coaching after school Lego Robotics, Underwater Robotics or what ever else students are interested in as it comes to science and robotics.
My passion is introducing kids through play and learning to the wonderful world of Robotics. Why Robotics? Well it is a perfect way to teach students about team work and to have kids experience the wonders of applied math, physics, biology and the sciences in general as well as computers (STEM). I have seen some amazing creations by kids who one never would expect to do so, I have seen incredible robotic failures through lack of team work, yet all of it have been great learning moments for all of us involved.
In the Fall of 2009 at the encouragement of my oldest daughter, who was entering 3rd grade, I formed a Lego Robotics team to compete in the First Lego League international robotics competition. After an intense couple of month in the fall the team managed to make it through the WA State FLL preliminary round to the WA State Championships. All of this to great surprise of the kids and their parents!!
That spring, after lots of interest by other kids in school, the program was expanded to include as many Kindergarten through 5th grade students. My focus is to get as many kids introduced to Robotics and STEM activities and in particularly show girls the wonderful world of science. [See: Engaging Girls in STEM article]. Today Robotics is a serious after school activity at Coe Elementary school and has expanded to include middle school teams. It has branched out from basic LEGO robotics to Tetrix, VEX, Underwater Robotics and more!
One of the biggest honors and strongest endorsement our work has gotten is not only the sheer number of students who keep coming back for more, including their participation in various Summer Camps, but by me receiving the IEEE Region 6 2013 Pre-University Educator of the Year award. An award bestowed on me by IEEE members in Western United States (Arizona to Alaska to Hawaii) for all the work with these students getting them engaged in Robotics. So thank you students and parents for your support!
So don’t be surprised if you find me some where around Queen Anne neighborhood in Seattle or on Lopez Island or CWU or other parts of the State and where ever else where there are kids, trying to engage them, encourage them or even ’shame’ them into the world of Robotics. Somehow it is my goal to get every kid bitten by the Robot Bug.