Teachers often explore beyond common curriculum to open up new worlds of learning for their students.

West Point Middle School teacher Rooney Coffey has turned to the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department to enrich her students' understanding of how their math and science classes can apply to larger areas of study, even robotics.

"The whole idea of this was to offer them (students) something outside the regular curriculum," Coffey said. "In their classes now, they do not get the opportunity to learn about robotics and be hands-on with them."

For one hour, more than 30 students from the sixth and eighth grades were given the opportunity to operate simple robots and machines that were developed by the Army and are being used in Iraq and Afghanistan by Soldiers engaged in the war on terrorism.

Maj. Ryan Ebel, EECS instructor, along with two of his colleagues and one cadet, set up and demonstrated the five robotic stations, then allowed the students to take over.

"We wanted them to have the opportunity to be completely hands-on with the various robots," Ebel said.
Sixth grader Nick Reyes' immediate reaction was, "This is awesome!," as he took control of one of the five robotic displays.

This is not the first time members from the EECS Department have demonstrated their projects at the Middle School.

When Coffey announced the opportunity to all 6th-8th graders, more than 100 students rushed to sign up.

Because of the overwhelming response from the students, they had to set up a second day to accommodate them.