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Wilson Middle School Students Take Robotics Field Trip - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Wilson Middle School Students Take Robotics Field Trip

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A group of Wilson Middle School students took a unique field trip to get some inspiration. The robotics class saw how adaptive technology can help folks with disabilities live and work every day. The next step is up to them.

Wilson Middle School will join schools from around the region next month, for the FIRST LEGO League technology competition. This year's theme is "Senior Solutions", so it is all about designing, building and programming a robot that can make their elders' lives a little easier.

The Wilson Middle School students are not just playing with wheelchairs, walkers and impaired-vision simulators. They are looking for inspiration, for the next big thing in adaptive technology.

Augusta Health physical therapist Joyce Rathfon said, "The main thing that we want is universal access that hopefully things we use every day would be accessible to all."

Physical therapists from Augusta Health showed what is already out there and fielded questions about the needs of people with physical disabilities.

Wilson 7th-grader Jenna Benzing stated, "There's a bunch of different stuff here that's waiting to be tried. So I'm pretty sure that something here is going to help a lot."

The seventh and eighth grade students are preparing to compete in the FIRST LEGO League, a challenge to solve real problems with robotics.

Wilson technology teacher Andrew Chase said, "You have programmers, you have people who build the actual robots, you have people doing the research. Then they bring it all together and as a team, they will do the actual presentation."

The Wilson team has chosen to focus on arthritis so their invention might make life easier in the kitchen or improve a client's mobility. Prior competitions have proven that the sky is the limit.

Chase stated, "They've actually had inventions spurred by students that have gone on to be patented and used."

Wilson 8th-grader Ryan Marks said, "I don't expect us to get any of that done, but if that would happen, that would be pretty cool. It would help a whole lot more if people would actually use it and that's one of my biggest priorities I think."

The field trip to Augusta Health helps the Wilson team prepare for the November tournament. Competition sites are at 20 schools across Virginia, including Harrisonburg, Lynchburg and Staunton.

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