Each Wednesday, a group of students meets in the library at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School to collaborate and share their interests in science and engineering.
The members of the school's new robotics club have been using their weekly sessions to design, build and test robots.
Their enthusiastic response may be the blueprint for something more substantial, said Barry Whittington, the parent volunteer who organized the program.
"Who knows where we go from here, but I'd like to see this program become even more established and perhaps we can look into the possibility of having a competitive team," Whittington said.
Whittington, who works as an electrical engineer for a software company, said he got the idea for creating a robotics club after attending a curriculum night last summer at the school.
Students' only involvement with robotics at the school at that point was through the school providing Sphero, a spherical robot users can control by a smartphone or tablet.
"I thought it would be even better if students had the chance to get involved in an activity that was more in-depth," he said. "They could learn even more by designing and building a robot themselves."
Working in conjunction with principal Julie Freeman, Whittington said he got assistance from St. Charles Preparatory School and Our Lady of Peace School, the only other school in the diocese that has a FIRST Lego League program.
Four robot kits were purchased for the Our Lady of Perpetual Help robotics club at the beginning of the school year.
"We had 24 kids sign up at the beginning and now it's down to about 18 to 20 students who still participate," Whittington said. "Some students found out it wasn't exactly what they were expecting. I think they thought it would involve playing and building things with Legos."
The club is open to students in fourth through eighth grades, he said.
Students formed into teams that work collaboratively on their robots.
The students program their robots to perform challenges developed by the FIRST Lego League.
Most recently, students have been working on a challenge in which their robot must proceed to a line on a floor mat and maneuver along the line to capture an object.
With each challenge, they need to make the necessary adjustments to the robot that will allow it to complete the required task, Whittington said.
"The value of this program is that students are learning to work collaboratively on a project and figuring out how to use software and online resources to problem solve," he said. "It's giving them some real-world experience in 21st- century skills."
Fourth-grader Joey York said he wanted to join the robotics club "because I thought it would be cool to learn about robots.
"It's fun learning about how you can build a robot with Legos and technology," he said.
The best part of the club is working on coding, fifth-grader Cowen Glover said.
Sixth-grader Colin Riter said the program allows him to explore his interest in science and engineering.
"I like the coding and it's fun to get to mess around with robots and mess around with coding," he said.