Santa Monica student and teacher bring robotics program to Compton students

- Ben Indeglia is a senior at New Roads School in Santa Monica and the captain of the school's robotics team. Three years ago, he and New Roads math teacher Danny Figueroa combined forces to bring robotics to young students in Compton, called the Compton Robotics Club.

The program started with about 20 kids in eight different schools and has grown to more than 200 students at 24 different schools.

Essentially, they've helped start a "robot revolution" in Compton public schools.

Ben and Danny joined me on Olympic & Bundy to talk about robotics, the kids they've gotten to work with, why robotics programs are important for schools and more.

Now you're probably either familiar with robotics and the importance of these programs in schools -- or are kind of lost on the subject.

I was more of the latter.

A robotics program involves problem-solving, some of the basic principles of coding and hands on learning. The Compton Robotics Club brings robotics to children in Compton who otherwise may not have the opportunity to get their feet wet in this field.

"(Kids) are learning how to program, they are learning how to build and they are practicing teamwork to try and beat challenges that we put in front of them," Danny explained, who also attended elementary and middle school in Compton.

And the program embodies more than just robots.

The kids compete for recognition in the international program FIRST Lego League. They learn teamwork, researching skills and even presentation and public speaking skills for competitions.

Ben and Danny have partnered with FIRST, a worldwide robotics and education program, to help implement the program and helped to get a STEM equity grant for the Compton Unified School District -- so it will continue to grow.

"Part of Compton's commitment to getting this grant is increasing the amount of teams that they have every year," Ben said.

But the grant doesn't cover all of the costs that come with the program. 

The district also helps to support the Compton Robotics Club, which requires the robotics kits, computers and even paying the teachers for the extra hours of helping with the program.

If you'd like to help the Compton Robotics Club by volunteering or making a donation, visit comptonroboticsclub.com or connect with them on Facebook

Listen to the full episode with Ben and Danny on March 11! 

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